Bitter battle for Delhi mayor poll on anvil

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 22: The January 24 Delhi mayor elections may turn out to be a cliffhanger, as battle lines are being drawn by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Moves are afoot to poach councillors to tilt the balance in the mayoral election on Tuesday.

The BJP leaders have gone in an overdrive to make a bet on the mayor election, taking cure from the Chandigarh mayoral poll. The BJP won the Chandigarh mayor election once more with one vote after Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) abstained from voting. This helped the BJP bag the mayor position with one vote. The BJP and AAP have 14 councillors each in the Chandigarh municipal corporation.

“The AAP councilors have approached us. The mayor election is not yet closed. We can even win the mayor election,” said a senior BJP functionary. The swearing in of the 10 aldermen nominated by the Delhi lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had led to the skirmish in the MCD House between the AAP and the BJP councilors. Afterwards, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had set off a war of words with the Delhi LG on the nomination of the alderman, who will not have the voting rights in the mayor elections, but they can cast their votes in the proceedings of the standing committee, which is actually vested with the executive power.

“We can win the mayor election. We have appealed the councilors to cast their votes on the basis of their conscience,” Virendra Sachdeva, the working president of the BJP told The Raisina Hills on Sunday. The BJP appears banking on the prospects of cross-voting in the mayor election.

The BJP leaders are drawing confidence from the fact that the AAP leadership had to “pressurize” rival candidates from own ranks who had filed separate papers for the post of mayor and deputy mayor. “The choice of the mayoral candidate Shelly Oberoi was certainly not unanimous,” argued a senior BJP functionary, who added that there could be moves from within the AAP ranks to defeat the official candidates, while adding that some of them are already in touch with the saffron outfit. The AAP has 132 councillors. The BJP has 104 members in the MCD. Congress with nine councilors will abstain from the MCD mayor election.

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