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Delhi: LJP withdraws to make way for Congress

Source: PTI
April 18, 2009 02:56 IST
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Electoral prospects of Congress in Delhi got a boost on Friday night after the Lok Janshakti Party announced withdrawal of its two candidates, including former Deputy Speaker of Assembly Shoaib Iqbal, with a commitment to support the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress party.

Iqbal, a prominent Muslim face, and his nephew Khurram were expected to play spoilers for Congress in North East and Chandni Chowk Constituencies, which have substantial electorate from the minority community.

However, Iqbal who is also sitting Member of Legislative Assembly from Matia Mahal in the walled city area, made an announcement of the withdrawals at a hurriedly-called press conference at Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's residence, a day after he decided to shift from Chandni Chowk constituency to North-East Delhi seat.

"LJP will not field candidates in Delhi. Party chief Ramvilas Paswan has authorised me to take a decision with regard to Delhi. Our decision will ensure that secular forces are strengthened," Iqbal told media persons.

The decision of Iqbal, who has a substantial vote base among the minority community, came as a relief to the Congress as it was expected that he would cut into the ruling party's Muslim vote bank in the capital.

Welcoming Iqbal's announcement, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the development will "strengthen anti-communal forces". The CM said discussions were on for the last couple of days and Iqbal communicated the decision on Friday.

Iqbal had earlier decided to take on Congress heavyweight Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk but on Thursday decided to contest from North-East Delhi from where the name of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief J P Aggarwal was declared on Friday.

Kapil Sibal, the Congress candidate from Chandni Chowk, said the decision of LJP will help Congress win all the seven seats. Iqbal said there was no deal between LJP and Congress and he had taken the decision to ensure defeat of the "communal forces".

He said, "We assessed the ground situation in all the seven seats and found out that we do not have any chance of winning in any of the seats. So, we decided not to field candidates in Delhi."

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