Delhi BJP change of guard brings infighting to the fore
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Last Updated: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 20:23
New Delhi: The change of guard in the Delhi unit of BJP with the appointment of Vijendra Gupta on Saturday saw infighting come back to the fore with senior party leaders like Vijay Goel and Jagdish Mukhi staying away from a function to felicitate him.

However, Gupta played down the absence of senior leaders and pledged to take everybody on board to strengthen the party which has experienced a series of electoral reverses.

"I believe in collective leadership and everybody will be taken on board in strengthening the party," he told a press conference.

Another senior party leader Nand Kishore Garg too was conspicuous by his absence at the function to felicitate 45-year-old Gupta, councillor from Rohini, on becoming the new party chief replacing O P Kohli.

Goel, Mukhi and Garg were among many others in the race for the party chief's post in the city unit of BJP.

"You do not find 100 per cent attendance in any class in any school or college, it happens," he said when asked about the absence of his party colleagues. "The national leadership has already made it clear his preference for youth leaders."

The Delhi Unit of BJP has been grappling with dissidence and infighting for last two years and many party leaders had even openly blamed their colleagues for heavy electoral defeats and party's dismal performance in the polls.

Before the last Lok Sabha polls, supporters of Pervesh Verma, son of former Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma, had even staged a sit-in outside L K Advani's residence for denying ticket to their leader.

Gupta's name for party chief's post in Delhi was agreed to after a series of meetings among party leaders including L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Ram Lal and Thavarchand Gehlot.

A three-time councillor from Rohini, Gupta had unsuccessfully contested against HRD Minister Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk constituency in 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

In his maiden press conference after becoming the Delhi unit chief, Gupta also took the opportunity to take a pot shot at Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit alleging that her dispensation has forgotten the basic responsibility of a government which is to serve the common people.

"My first message to the chief minister is to fulfil the basic responsibility of the government. Her administration has become very arrogant. We will not tolerate this," he said.

Identifying price rise as main issue, he accused the government of piling up the common man's woes. He also accused the Delhi government of politicising the issue of extending financial grant to BJP-ruled MCD.

"The Chief Minister always plays politics in allocating financial assistance to it. The responsibility of ensuring proper functioning of MCD also lies with the city as well as Central government," he said replying to a question on poor performance of BJP-ruled MCD.

On why the function to felicitate him was organised on a day when one of the top party's top leaders Bhairon Singh Shekhawat passed away, Gupta avoided any answer but Kohli said it could not be postponed due to "practical problems."

Kohli had earlier requested partymen not to beat drums and offer garland to Gupta as a mark of respect to Shekhawat.


First Published: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 20:23

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