Malhotra is BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi (Roundup)

September 26th, 2008 - 10:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader V.K. Malhotra was Friday named the chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, and the veteran MP pledged to make the Indian capital “clean, green and truly world class” if his party won the coming state elections.One of the longest serving and most popular of BJP leaders in Delhi, Malhotra defeated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in South Delhi in 1999 — the only time the Congress leader fought a Lok Sabha battle. The Congress was then in the opposition.

With elections in Delhi just about two months away, the BJP Central Parliamentary Board decided to name Malhotra as its general to take on the Congress that has ruled the city for 10 long years.

“We will fight under his guidance,” BJP spokesperson and election strategist Arun Jaitley told reporters, making a momentous decision in the history of the BJP in Delhi.

Malhotra, born in Lahore (then in Pakistan) in December 1931, and Kedar Nath Sahni for decades played second fiddle to warhorse Madan Lal Khurana in the triumvirate that controlled the BJP and its earlier incarnation, Jan Sangh, in the national capital.

Malhotra began to play a greater role in the BJP after Khurana quit the party. As deputy leader of the BJP parliamentary wing, Malhotra is one of the most recognised faces of the party.

In 2004, Malhotra was the only one from BJP to win one of Delhi’s seven parliamentary seats. All others were bagged by the Congress.

After his candidature was announced, a visibly pleased Malhotra declared: “I hope I meet the expectations of the party. If we come to power, we’ll make Delhi clean, green and truly world class.”

Delhi BJP president Harshvardhan, who was once considered to be in the race for the top post in Delhi, congratulated Malhotra.

“Malhotraji is the most experienced member of our party’s state unit. We hope to get rid of the corruption and inefficiencies of Sheila Dikshit under his leadership,” he said.

The BJP’s decision to pit Malhotra against Dikshit was a disappointment to Vijay Goel, one of the aspirants for chief ministership who went missing from the press conference though he was present a little earlier.

Explaining his absence, Jaitley said: “We also have a Haryana state committee meeting. Being a member of the committee, Goel is in Sonepat.”

Malhotra started working with the Jan Sangh in 1958. He was the chief executive councillor of the Delhi Metropolitan Council in 1967. A decade later, when the Congress was ousted from power nationally for the first time, Malhotra was named president of the city unit of the newly found Janata Party.

An educationist who holds a doctorate in Hindi literature, he headed the BJP’s Delhi unit for four years from 1980, when the Jan Sangh came out of the Janata Party calling itself the BJP.

Malhotra is also involved with national chess and archery federations. He is a senior vice president of the Indian Olympic Association.

He is also one of the key organisers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi.

Besides Delhi, the BJP has to announce chief ministerial candidates for Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh - all ruled by the party.

“We’ll declare the candidates when the time comes,” said Jaitley, remarks BJP sources indicated that the party planned to retain the incumbents.

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