Party won’t wait for Election Commission’s election date announcement.
National BJP strategists are preparing to announce the party’s first list of 70-plus Lok Sabha candidates much before the official release of dates by the Election Commission, sources said. Most of these seats will be those on which the party stood second or third in the 2019 elections.
The party adopted a similar early mover strategy in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by announcing 39 and 21 candidates, respectively, for Assembly polls in the two states later this year. The objective behind the early release of candidates’ names is to give its nominees extra time to campaign on challenging seats. Early announcement of names not only helps the BJP surprise rivals, but also mounts pressure on the latter to hasten their announcement of candidates.
For the 2024 parliamentary elections, the BJP has identified 140-plus challenging seats where the performance of the party needs improvement, sources said.
Apart from these 140 seats, the BJP has identified 40 high-profile seats where Opposition heavyweights are likely to be fielded. On these seats, the saffron party plans to field candidates who are popular and fit the social-engineering and other parameters.
Meanwhile, at a time when the year-end Assembly elections in five states are in national focus, the political discourse in the national capital has started getting dominated by issues related to the Lok Sabha elections.
While the BJP, which holds all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, has taken a lead over its rivals by announcing names of party leaders in charge for each seat, the AAP and the Congress, both partners in the national-level Opposition bloc, have started having sharp exchanges over seat-sharing. While the Delhi Congress says it wants to prepare for contesting all seven seats, the AAP says in such a scenario there is no need for a national alliance.
Sources said that for their united fight against the BJP on the seven seats, both the AAP and the Congress want to adopt a seat-sharing formula so that there is just one strong opposition candidate to challenge the saffron party in each Lok Sabha seat.
However, BJP leader Manoj Tiwari questioned the tie-up between the AAP and the Congress and asked, “What sort of an alliance is this? They don’t want to talk about each other’s corruption.” When AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal goes to Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, the Congress feels uncomfortable. Kejriwal calls the ruling Congress in Chhattisgarh inefficient, but at the national level both the parties want to fight elections jointly, he said.
During his political meetings in Raipur, Kejriwal flaunted the AAP model that he claimed had resulted in free, uninterrupted power supply to Delhiites and Punjab residents. He claimed that free power was not available even in advanced countries like US, Japan or France. “Only I have the formula to ensure free power to the poor,” he said. He also shared “Kejriwal guarantees” with the voters of Chhattisgarh, vowing that he would prefer dying than reneging on his promises, including free 300 units of power, improved education and health services and free pilgrimage for the elderly.
Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bhiduri was quick to call him out on his alleged “lies” on the power situation before the AAP came to power. “Kejriwal is lying openly by claiming that there were 7-8 hours of power cuts in Delhi before he became the CM. The privatisation of the power utility in the city had changed the electric supply situation much before he had entered politics and there were no long power cuts as he claimed in Chhattisgarh,” he said.