Monday, 30th October 2017

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Before cakewalk, long wait in queue

AAP termed the election itself a ‘walkover’

By Pheroze L. Vincent in New Delhi
  • Published 22.01.20, 2:06 AM
  • Updated 22.01.20, 2:06 AM
  • 2 mins read
Arvind Kejriwal waits to file his nomination papers for the state Assembly polls in Delhi (PTI photo)

Aam Aadmi Party national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has cleared the biggest challenge of his re-election, filing his papers after a six-hour wait.

The chief minister had to wait because several sacked transport workers filed nominations for the New Delhi seat on the last day of nomination.

AAP termed the election itself a “walkover” after both the BJP and the Congress fielded relatively lesser-known candidates for the seat from which Kejriwal had defeated former chief minister and Congress veteran Sheila Dikshit in 2013.

On Tuesday, some 66 candidates, including Kejriwal, BJP’s Sunil Yadav (a youth wing leader) and Congress’s Romesh Sabharwal (a student leader in the 1980s) turned up to file their nominations before the returning officer in Jamnagar House.

In the queue were around 30 men who had lost their contractual jobs in the Delhi Transport Corporation over the past five years. The nomination filing was to end at 3pm on Tuesday, and tokens were issued to all candidates who turned up before that time.

Kejriwal was 45th in the queue.

AAP MLA and spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj tweeted: “Around 35 candidates sitting at RO office with CM, without proper nomination papers, without even 10 proposers. They are calling their proposers on phone to come. They are insisting that unless their papers are complete and they file the nominations, they won’t allow the CM to file the nominations.”

Kejriwal had intended to file the papers on Monday but was delayed in a rally. In 2015, he was similarly delayed by a day.

The chief minister replied to Bharadwaj on Twitter: “Doesn’t matter. Many of them are filing for the first time. They are bound to make mistakes. We also made mistakes the first time. We should hand-hold them. I am enjoying waiting with them. They are all part of my family.”

He completed his nomination formalities around 7pm. Kejriwal had won 53.46 per cent of the votes polled in 2013, and 64.34 per cent of votes against BJP’s Nupur Sharma in 2015.

Manoj Sharma of the DTC Contractual Employees Union told reporters that one of them had filed their nominations on behalf of the Mazdoor Ekta Party, which was launched by the retrenched staff last year, and the rest as Independents.

He said: “This is like a job fair for us. We want a job and this is that for us. We are contesting against Kejriwal to save the Constitution and the common man.”

Sharma insisted that the deposit of Rs 10,000 per candidate came from voluntary contributions of their families. EVMs can be attached to accommodate up to 384 candidates on a single ballot.

Senior AAP leader Jasmine Shah, who is managing Kejriwal’s campaign, told The Telegraph: “From the beginning, we knew that this Delhi election is a walkover as neither the BJP nor Congress has declared CM candidates. They had fielded workers as scapegoats to fight Arvind Kejriwal….”