Delhi Assembly Polls: BJP, Congress Lay Down Carpet for Regional Allies

Congress has left four seats for RJD while BJP has accommodated JD(U) and LJP on two and one seat respectively.

New Delhi: The Delhi Assembly election this time is witnessing the formal entry of several regional parties as alliance partners of major national players.

The Congress has officially allied with the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad while the Bharatiya Janata Party has joined hands with Janata Dal (United) and Lok Janshakti Party for the polls.

On the other hand, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), which is an ally of the BJP at the Centre, has this time decided not to field its candidates from the four seats it contested last time following differences with BJP on the Citizenship Amendment Act. The development comes just a day after J.P. Nadda took over as BJP national president.

Though three high-level meetings were held between the two parties, the differences persisted leading to the SAD stating that it would no longer go with BJP in the polls, thus ending an over two-decade alliance in Delhi.

In 2015, SAD had contested four seats. While Manjinder Singh Sirsa (from Rajouri Garden) and Avtar Singh Hit (Hari Nagar) had contested on the party’s own symbol, Harmeet Singh Kalka (from Kalkaji) and Jitender Pal Shanty (Shahdara) had fought as BJP candidates. This time the party wanted to contest the seats on its own symbol, which the BJP opposed.

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After talks failed, BJP announced its candidates from these four seats as well. They are Dharamvir Singh from Kalkaji, Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga from Hari Nagar, former East Delhi deputy mayor Sanjay Goyal from Shahdara and Ramesh Khanna from Rajouri Garden.

During the Haryana polls too earlier this year, SAD had not allied with the BJP, accusing the latter of poaching its lone legislator from the state ahead of the polls.

RJD is contesting four seats

As for the Congress, it has allied with RJD in Delhi this time. The two have been partners in Bihar over several assembly polls and recently came together successfully in Jharkhand where in alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha they dislodged the Raghubar Das-led BJP government.

The RJD has fielded candidates from four constituencies. They are Pramod Tyagi from Burari, Riyazuddin Khan form Kirari, Shakti Kumar Bishnoi from Uttam Nagar and Niram Kumar Singh from Palam. All these constituencies have a significant number of Poorvanchali residents. RJD had contested from Kirari, Burari and Palam in the past, unsuccessfully.

Poorvanchali voters have largely backed the Congress but the 2013 Assembly polls had marked their shift towards the Aam Aadmi Party.

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While announcing the pact, RJD MP Manoj Jha had stated that his party was confident that it “will give a good fight on all the four seats.”

The RJD, which in the past has been making small forays into Delhi, looks to make a serious impact here for the first time. It had notably supported Asif Mohammad Khan as he won the elections from Okhla in 2008 before he moved to the Congress and won on their ticket in 2013, this time it has made a serious impact through a proper alliance. The party was seeking 10% or seven seats, but later settled for four.

BJP carries central alliance to Delhi polls

Like the Congress, the BJP too realises the importance of winning over Poorvanchali, and its Dalit voters. And it is for this reason that it has partnered with Janata Dal (United) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party.

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Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari, while noting that this was the first time these NDA partners were coming together, noted that both JD(U) and LJP will support BJP candidates in the remaining 67 seats.

While JD(U) has fielded Shailender Kumar from Burari and former legislator SCL Gupta from Sangam Vihar, LJP will be contesting the Seemapuri (SC) seat with Santlal Chawaria as its candidate.

During the announcement of the alliance, JD(U) national general secretary Sanjay Jha said he hoped that “the alliance will send out a strong message in the country”.

Following the pact, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and LJP leaders Ram Vilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan are expected to campaign for the alliance candidates.