Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal filed his nomination for the February 8 Assembly elections from the New Delhi seat on Tuesday after waiting for six hours at the office of the Returning Officer (RO), with 65 others also filing their papers.
The total number of contestants from New Delhi is now 93. The final number of contestants on the seat would only be known after Friday, the last date of withdrawal of nominations.
On Tuesday, Kejriwal, waiting with token number 45, had at least 10 former contractual employees of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), around five cab drivers, at least four social workers who participated in the India Against Corruption Movement in 2011, and a national-level hockey player, who played a cameo in the movie ‘Chak De! India’, ahead of him.
“I was part of a group of DTC contractual employees that had protested against Kejriwal in 2018, demanding equal pay for all contractual workers, for which we were sacked. This is our only chance to defeat Kejriwal in the political arena,” said Manoj Sharma, one of the candidates who filed his nomination papers before Kejriwal.
Shailendra Singh Shally, a national-level athlete, is now a member of the ‘Anjaan Aadmi Party’. He said, “We are contesting because we are capable of bringing Swaraj and engaging in revolutionary politics better than Arvind Kejriwal’s.”
Shally’s name had hit headlines in 2009 when he rescued passengers stuck in a public bus that caught fire on the middle of the road in Delhi’s Mandir Marg. His supporters carried news clippings of the incident and sported Gandhi caps – similar to the AAP – but black instead of the white ones.
And just ahead of Kejriwal was cab driver Pawan Kumar with token number 44. “This government has hardly paid any attention to the problems faced by taxi drivers,” he said. “Autorickshaw fares were revised but there was no scheme for taxi drivers. Time has come to have MLAs who are cab drivers.”
The delay that Kejriwal faced triggered a brief row on social media when his party colleagues Manish Sisodia and Saurabh Bharadwaj indicated that this could be a conspiracy.
“We have learnt that a group of around 50 candidates would come to the RO’s office every day, take tokens but refuse to file nomination papers. They deliberately waited for the day when the CM arrived in the RO’s office,” said Bharadwaj, who is also the AAP’s national spokesperson.
The district election officer denied any ‘deliberate delay’. The BJP issued a statement, rejecting the allegations as a “bunch of lies”.
When Kejriwal’s turn finally came around 6.15 pm, the lights went off. It was a brief power failure, officials outside the RO’s office said. He came out of the building around 6.45 pm and left through another gate.
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