Grappling with infightings and factionalism ahead of the assembly polls, Delhi BJP today tried to put up a united face with almost all senior leaders coming on a common platform and resolving to work together to oust the Congress government.
Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel, Leader of opposition V K Malhotra, former city unit president Vijender Gupta, former Mayor Arti Mehra and senior party functionary Vijay Jolly addressed a joint press conference and said they will work together to remove the Congress government which is in power for last 15 years.
However, senior party leader Harsh Vardhan, whose name has been doing the rounds as party's chief Ministerial candidate, was not present in the press conference.
"The party is united and has geared up for the up-coming Delhi state assembly elections. We are ready to take on the Congress," Goel said.
Listing preparation of the party for the election, he said Delhi Unit will send the first list of probable candidates to the central leadership by September 15.
"We will give tickets to winnable candidates who could give a tough fight to their opponents. We want to complete the process of selecting candidates at the earliest. The first list of probable candidates will be sent to central leadership by September 15," he said.
Asked about absence of Vardhan in the press conference, Goel said it was not always possible for all leaders to be present at all the functions.
The Delhi BJP has been facing the problem of factionalism as a number of senior leaders had conveyed unhappiness to party leadership over style of functioning of Goel, complaining that he was trying to sideline them.
Sources said party's Delhi Election in-charge Nitin Gadkari had given a message to all the leaders asking them to leave behind their differences and work unitedly to ensure party's victory in the assembly polls slated for November.
They said a 14-member informal group, which includes Goel, Malhotra, Gupta, Mehra, Jolly, senior MLA Jagdish Mukhi, former party unit chief O P Kohli, Delhi BJP general Secretary Ramesh Bidhuri and Pravesh Verma, son of former Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma, has been tasked to run party affairs.
BJP on Sunday had announced the much-awaited Election Committee and Core Group of Delhi unit, doing a balancing act in the process to end resentment against Goel. He was named head of both the committees.
Asked about differences among the senior leaders, Goel said they have "cordial relations and that is why all the senior leaders are together at the press conference."
"The party is going ahead with cooperation from everybody. We are united," he said.
Asked about who will be BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Goel said the Parliamentary Board of the party will take a decision on it.
Goel said the fight will be between BJP and Congress, dismissing Aam Aadmi Party's attempts to be an alternative in the electoral contest.
He said steps are being taken to strengthen the party in all 11,700 booths.
Speaking at the press conference, Malhotra said the party was "fully prepared" for the elections and the process for selection of candidates has already began.
"From today we will seriously start preparations for the election though it had started long back. Congress government has totally failed on every front. The people of the city will throw it out," he said adding price rise, corruption and failure of the Delhi government on all fronts will be the major issues BJP will highlight in the run up to the polls.
Asked whether he will contest the polls, Malhotra did not give a direct reply but Goel said party will take a final call on the issue. There have been reports that Malhotra wants his son to contest from the Greater Kailash constituency which is being represented by him currently.
On whether Kiran Bedi was joining the BJP, Goel said he did not have any information.
Asked whether leaders from some other parties are joining BJP, he said party will consider it.
Goel said people from Purvanchali community will be given preference in ticket distribution.
"The Purvanchalis have been neglected by the Congress government. We will do our best to ensure welfare of the community if we come to power," he said.
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.