The names of four leaders, all Delhi based, are doing the rounds to replace Manoj Tiwari, who is being viewed as an ‘outsider’.

 

The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to see a change of guard in the coming months. The names of four leaders, all Delhi based—unlike current chief Manoj Tiwari, who is seen as an outsider—are doing the rounds for the top job, according to highly placed sources.

Sources have also confirmed that the change of guard in the Delhi unit is likely to be done before the “mood” of the Lok Sabha elections kicks in, sometime later this year. Party sources said that the leadership is likely to choose from among Harish Khurana, who is the son of senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister of Delhi, Madan Lal Khurana; former mayor of Delhi Municipal Corporation Ravinder Gupta; lLeader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta, and Pravesh Verma (son of Sahib Singh Verma, a former Chief Minister of Delhi), a senior BJP leader and MP from West Delhi constituency, to replace Tiwari, who is MP from North East Delhi.

Delhi-based leaders who are against Tiwari, including Union minister Vijay Goel, have been complaining to the party high command that Tiwari is inaccessible and is mostly busy in other social events, due to which he is not being able to give time.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior BJP leader said that the problem with Manoj Tiwari is his inaccessibility and that he is looked at as an “outsider” in Delhi, a tag which he has not been able to shed despite being in the post for the last two years. “The problem with Manoj Tiwari is that he is inaccessible to most people. He is a celebrity-turned-politician, and, therefore, remains like one. The party workers hardly get to meet him; this has created a wide divide within the senior ranks of the party in Delhi,” the BJP leader alleged.  However, Tiwari’s supporters say that there is no celebrity image with the leader and that he is one who takes everybody together. A BJP leader and Tiwari’s supporter told The Sunday Guardian: “Manoj Tiwari is not like a celebrity, he is a grounded leader who is working with everybody in the state. Yes, he is an outsider, but he has been taking every view into consideration. He is the one who spearheaded the MCD election win in all the three MCDs of Delhi, even after facing huge anti-incumbency.”

Commenting on him being replaced, Manoj Tiwari told The Sunday Guardian, “I cannot say whether I will be replaced or not. Complaints that I am inaccessible are false. I have joined politics to be with the people and to serve them and that is what I am always doing. As president, I have a weekly meeting every Monday with all my leaders, while every Saturday, I meet the common man. I hear that people say that I am not accessible to the press, but if one has a problem, they can always come up to me and talk—I am open to discussions.”

Hailing from Bihar, Manoj Tiwari was appointed as the president of the Delhi BJP in 2016. His appointment was made to woo the Purvanchali vote bank in Delhi that constitutes about 40% of the total voters in Delhi and has only grown with time.

However, since his appointment, a section of the state BJP, mainly led by the Punjabi and Baniya lobbies, has been raising voices against Tiwari, with the most prominent one being the open cold war between Manoj Tiwari and Union Minister Vijay Goel who also held the position of presidentship of the Delhi BJP, earlier. The names of leaders like Khurana, Pravesh Verma, Ravinder Gupta are doing the rounds to mainly woo the Baniya and Punjabi communities in Delhi, who seem to have been going out of the grasp of the BJP mostly after the sealing drive that was undertaken by the MCDs here. The Baniya community is considered to be the traditional voters of the BJP and to keep this intact, the BJP is likely to choose one among them. Hairsh Khurana, one of the front-runners for the post, if Tiwari is to be replaced, said: “I have no information on the change in presidentship or my name being put forward for the post. BJP is a party that takes decision in a democratic manner and whatever decision the party takes, I will abide by that,” Khurana said, Ravinder Gupta said, “The party has not yet intimated anything like this. If at all a change happens, it will be announced.”

 

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