Firebrand or popular face: BJP’s Delhi overhaul could see change in leadership
The Delhi BJP is likely to see fresh faces in its organisational set-up when it goes for its next election assignment — the 2022 MCD polls, where it will be facing 15 years of anti-incumbency. Senior party leaders said that since Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari’s tenure had ended and he was on an extension, the party could think of fresh names.
The party’s next line of leaders who could hold a chance at becoming the state president are MPs Parvesh Sahib Singh and Gautam Gambhir, former MP Maheish Girri, and senior leader Ashish Sood.
“If the party wants a firebrand leader, Parvesh can be a choice. He has been backed by top leadership a few times in the past months, including when the Home Minister dared Kejriwal to debate him,” said a senior leader.
But if the party wants a leader with a wider appeal, East Delhi MP Gambhir could be a choice. “Gambhir has the image of an honest person and since Kejriwal makes the election a battle between personalities, the party might think of grooming him for the task in the next polls. He is a popular face, especially among youths,” he said. Girri and Sood have considerable experience in the party.
Slide 1 of 27: NEW DELHI, INDIA JANUARY 19: Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal during the launch of Kejriwal ka guarantee Card that has 10 promises the government will fulfill if it returns to power, New Delhi. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/India Today Group/Getty Images); NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 20: AAP MLA Alka Lamba pays homage to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the occasion of his 75th birth anniversary at Veer Bhumi on August 20, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Another leader said that the party might now look beyond “caste and regional lines” since it is “increasingly obvious” that though these things play a role, they are not the main factor, especially in a cosmopolitan city like Delhi.
Tiwari, who was appointed state president in November 2016, saw quick success by winning the 2017 MCD polls, when the party overcame the massive anti-incumbency of two terms, to leave Congress and AAP behind. He was also credited when the party won all seven seats in the Lok Sabha.
Before Tiwari’s appointment as Delhi BJP chief, the unit was dominated by Punjabis, Baniyas, Jats and Gujjars. However, as the population of migrants increased over the past decades — they are estimated to comprise a third of the city’s over two crore population — the party felt the need to get a leader to tap that base.
The voting pattern suggests the BJP fared comparatively better in constituencies in the trans-Yamuna regions, such as Karawal Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Laxmi Nagar, Rohtas Nagar, Patparganj and Mustafabad, where there is a significant population of Purvanchalis.
Tiwari said the party will review why it failed to meet its own expectations and saw a moral victory in the fact that its vote share has increased since 2015.
“Delhi must have given the mandate after careful thinking. Our vote percentage has increased from 32 per cent to around 38 per cent. Delhi did not reject us and the increase (in vote share) is a good sign for us,” he said.
He said the BJP hopes there would be less blame-game and more work in the capital, and congratulated Arvind Kejriwal on the party’s victory. “We indulge in politics of development, not politics of hate. We’re still against the roadblock in Shaheen Bagh, as we were earlier,” he said.