NEW DELHI: Former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag has turned down the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) offer to contest the Lok Sabha election from Delhi.
Talks with another former international cricketer, Gautam Gambhir, are on, said a BJP leader. Gambhir is being considered for New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, which is currently represented by senior lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi.
A senior party functionary privy to the development said Sehwag was not ready to take the political plunge at this point in time. “He has categorically turned down the party’s offer. But we can engage him for the party’s campaign. His name was being considered from west Delhi seat. Gambhir is still the front runner for the New Delhi constituency,” said the state BJP functionary.
Gambhir has already started meeting local groups and residents of localities falling under the New Delhi constituency, he said.
As part of the BJP’s ‘Sampark se Samarthan’ (Contact for Support) campaign, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and local unit chief Manoj Tiwari had met Sehwag at his farmhouse in July.
In the 2012 municipal elections, Sehwag had campaigned for his sister Anju Meherwal, who had successfully contested from Dakshinpuri Extension ward in south Delhi on a Congress ticket.
State BJP leaders said that after Sehwag’s refusal, sitting MP Parvesh Verma, a former Congress MP, and Pawan Sharma, who was elected to the Delhi Assembly in 2013 from Uttam Nagar, are being considered for west Delhi, which is dominated by Jats and Poorvanchalis.
“Verma, son of former Delhi chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, is a strong contender. He defeated Aam Aadmi Party’s Jarnail Singh by a margin of about 2.60 lakh votes, which was the highest for the seven seats in Delhi,” said another BJP leader.
Verma, an MLA from Mehrauli, had wrested West Delhi Lok Sabha seat from Congress’ Mahabal Mishra, a popular Poorvanchali face in Delhi.
According to two state BJP leaders, including a top functionary, Tiwari has sent his recommendations for the seven seats to the central leadership, which may finalise nominees after Holi, which is on March 21.
Former Delhi University Student Union president and BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Mittal is one of the probables for the Chandni Chowk seat.
A close associate of the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, Mittal “has recommendation of the state leadership. His name figure in the list of party’s possible candidates sent to the high command recently,” said a Delhi BJP functionary.