Fears of internal sabotage, protest and concerns from Baniya-Punjabi communities stopped the announcement.

 

New Delhi: Fears of internal sabotage, protests and concerns from the Baniya-Punjabi communities and internal assessment done by the RSS that indicated no major gains in case Manoj Tiwari was announced as the CM face stopped the BJP from announcing Tiwari’s name in what party leaders have described as a last-minute change of heart. The Baniya-Punjabi communities constitute nearly 50% of the total voters of Delhi, while the Purvanchal voters are estimated to be around 25-28%.

Delhi BJP leaders, including functionaries of the Purvanchal wing, told The Sunday Guardian that Tiwari’s name was almost finalised, but as soon as the news about the impending announcement started floating, the party leadership started receiving vociferous words of protests from other state leaders who indicated that if Tiwari was announced as the CM face, a large section of the workers, as per their claim, will “sit at home”.

It was after taking these concerns into account that party president Amit Shah, on Sunday, while addressing party workers at the Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium, announced that the party will contest the election under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which virtually ended Tiwari’s chance to at least say that he was the party’s official CM face.

This is not for the first time that internal mathematics has played a significant role in Delhi’s BJP politics.

BJP last won in Delhi in the 1993 Assembly elections. The party went with a CM face in Sushma Swaraj in the 1998 elections and Madan Lal Khurana in 2003. For 2008, though it was not announced, it was implied that V.K. Malhotra was its CM face, while the party announced Harshvardhan in 2013 and Kiran Bedi in 2015 as its CM face.

The BJP would have won the 2003 elections, a veteran observer of Delhi elections recalled, if it was not for an informal tie-up between Sheila Dikshit and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani in order to stop Khurana from becoming the CM. It was under this understanding that not a single Brahmin was given a ticket by the BJP on 20 plus seats where the Brahmin voters played a decisive role, thereby upstaging the BJP’s and Khurana’s chance to win in Delhi.

The RSS’s assessment, too, had advised the party leadership not to go for a CM face as there was a lot of discontent against Tiwari within the party as he was considered as an “outsider” and someone who had won in Delhi only because of the Modi wave.

A RSS functionary said: “Delhi in an important election as for many, it will be seen as a referendum on issues like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). We cannot repeat a performance like 2015. Only collective leadership will help us because we have nothing else to show to the voters apart from the regularisation of illegal colonies which might bring us votes from the lower income segment, but may not bring us votes from the middle class which sees and reads about mohalla clinics, local schools, medical treatment of accident victims, CCTVs, government service at home that the Arvind Kejriwal government has implemented.”

There is a very strong possibility that in case the BJP reaches the position to form the government in Delhi, it might look beyond Tiwari and Vijay Goel as their CM face and rather bring in a fresh local face.

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