NEW DELHI: With the announcement of its list of candidates, the Congress has decided to go solo in Delhi, drawing curtains on the months-long possibility of an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Three-time chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit has been nominated from northeast Delhi, where she will be facing AAP’s Dilip Pandey and incumbent BJP MP Manoj Tiwari.
Former Union minister Ajay Maken will contest the New Delhi seat, Jai Prakash Agarwal has been picked for Chandni Chowk, Arvinder Singh Lovely from east Delhi, Rajesh Lilothia from northwest Delhi and Mahabal Mishra from west Delhi.
In a late night decision, the party named Olympian boxer Vijender Singh as the candidate for the South Delhi seat against AAP’s Raghav Chadha and the BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri.Subhash Chopra, head of campaign committee of Delhi Congress, said the best candidates chosen for the contest. “... The Congress could not give better candidates than these nominees,” he said.
Dikshit, who took over from Maken as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief earlier this year, was last a member of Parliament from 1984-89 from Kannauj.
She was the chief minister of Delhi for three terms between 1998 and 2013. Dikshit will take on BJP's sitting MP Manoj Tiwari and Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Dilip Pandey.
Interestingly, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has not been named from the Chandni Chowk seat from which he has been fighting from since 2004.
After two terms, Sibal had lost to Union minister Harsh Vardhan in 2014. Sibal had said last month that he will "certainly contest" from Delhi's Chandni Chowk seat in the Lok Sabha, irrespective of whether there is an alliance between his party and AAP.
Another interesting pick by the Congress is former DCC chief Lovely from East Delhi where he will take on AAP's Atishi.
The BJP is yet to declare its candidate from the seat. Lovely has held important portfolios such as a minister in Delhi. He had briefly joined the BJP, but returned to the Congress fold in 2018.The Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the South Delhi seat.
In the 2014 national election, the BJP won all seven seats in Delhi. Talks for an alliance between the Congress and AAP broke down over AAP's insistence that the grand old party should agree to share seats in Haryana, Chandigarh and Punjab apart from Delhi.
The AAP has already named its seven candidates in the national capital and party's West Delhi candidate Balbir Singh Jakhar had also filed his nomination papers on Thursday.
The other six candidates who are expected to file their nominations soon are Chandni Chowk candidate Pankaj Gupta, East Delhi candidate Atishi, North West Delhi candidate Gugan Singh, South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha, North East candidate Pandey and New Delhi candidate Brajesh Goel.
The BJP on Sunday fielded its four sitting MPs from Delhi -- Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, Manoj Tiwari from North-east Delhi, Pravesh Verma from West Delhi and Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi.
(with inputs from PTI)