New Delhi: A day after Union minister Hardeep Puri created a flutter in the Delhi BJP by announcing state party chief Manoj Tiwari as the chief minister candidate, before retracting his statement, the latter said the Delhi election will be fought under his leadership.
He, however, skirted the question of who the chief ministerial candidate of the party will be.
“Under my leadership as the party president of Delhi BJP, we have defeated AAP in municipal elections and will defeat them in Delhi too. As far as CM candidate is concerned, it is the parliamentary board of the party that takes a call on such issues,” Tiwari told ThePrint.
He said the furore over Puri’s statement, including the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) potshots, only highlights the “anxiousness of the AAP”. “This incident has definitely highlighted one thing, that the AAP is definitely scared and anxious. The moment my name came up they started discussing it on social media.”
He added, “(Delhi deputy chief minister) Manish Sisodiaji tweeted congratulating me. Doesn’t he know who is authorised to take such decisions? Of course, he is. But all these AAP leaders are losing their sleep over this.”
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Hardeep Puri ‘pulled up’ by BJP high command
Speaking at an event Sunday, Puri was quoted as saying that the BJP was “going to fight the (upcoming Delhi) assembly elections under the leadership of Manoj Tiwari”. “We will only rest after making him the chief minister,” he said.
Soon afterwards, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia sought to congratulate Tiwari on Twitter.
मैं मनोज तिवारी @ManojTiwariMP जी को आगामी विधानसभा चुनाव के लिए बीजेपी की ओर से मुख्यमंत्री पद का उम्मीदवार बनाए जाने पर बधाई देता हूँ. https://t.co/B4Ywr0D9Eh
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) November 24, 2019
Puri later clarified through a tweet that the BJP had not announced any chief ministerial candidate, saying that his remark about Tiwari was only meant to imply that the Delhi unit would win with a huge margin under his leadership.
दिल्ली में भाजपा विजय की ओर अग्रसर है। पार्टी ने अब तक मुख्यमंत्री पद के लिए किसी को नामित नहीं किया है। श्री मनोज तिवारी @Delhi4BJP के अध्यक्ष हैं। पार्टी उनके नेतृत्व में पूरे जोश से काम कर रही है। मेरे बयान का मतलब था कि भाजपा उनके नेतृत्व में भारी मतों से आगामी चुनाव जीतेगी।
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) November 24, 2019
According to sources, the minister retracted his statement after he was pulled up by the party high command.
The central leadership of the BJP was not happy with Puri’s comments, which came at a time when the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government is giving the party tough competition, especially through the announcement of freebies and their campaign focus on good governance.
“Puriji (a former diplomat) is not well-versed with Delhi politics and he didn’t realise the import of his words and that it will become such a major issue. It is not necessary that a state unit chief under whose leadership elections are fought also becomes the CM candidate. He was asked to retract by the senior leaders and he has done that,” said a senior BJP leader who did not wish to be named.
‘BJP not in favour of announcing CM candidate before polls’
A party functionary said the BJP was not in favour of announcing a CM candidate before the elections.
“Whoever is pitched by the BJP will be compared to Arvind Kejriwal. It is better to fight under the leadership of PM Modi and the entire state unit. It also helps in keeping in-fighting in check as everyone has a chance to be selected after the results are declared,” the functionary added.
The central leadership had made Union minister Prakash Javadekar the election in-charge for Delhi and Puri the co-in-charge, a role that requires them to come up with strategies and carry out a smooth campaign.
“Such statements only end up giving fodder to the competition. The BJP has a system and such major decisions are not announced in this manner. Senior leaders like Puri should think twice before making such statements,” said another BJP functionary.
However, a section in the party is also of the view that the announcement was deliberate, and meant to test waters. “He is a Purvanchali face and the statement has definitely led to many leaders from the community appreciating the fact that the BJP is looking at him as the CM face. The party has not given any official statement, so it is a good strategy by the party,” said a leader.
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