Days after its defeat in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday appointed Virendra Sachdeva, who was the vice-president of its Delhi unit, as the working president of the Delhi BJP.
The announcement came after Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta resigned from the post, taking responsibility for the poll defeat, with the party failing to secure a fourth term in the civic body.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 134 seats, while the BJP was restricted to 104.
“As per the directions of BJP president JP Nadda, Adesh Gupta’s resignation has been accepted. Till further notice, Virendra Sachdeva has been appointed as the working president of Delhi BJP,” the party’s national general secretary Arun Singh said in an order.
After taking charge on Sunday, Sachdeva said: “We have to start preparing for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 without any rest. We have to spread the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas among the masses to ensure victory of all seven BJP candidates for the third consecutive time.”
His first major challenge as working president will be the election of the MCD mayor.
Sachdeva started his political career in 1988 and has risen through the ranks.
He worked at various party posts at the district level before becoming president of Mayur Vihar and Chandni Chowk districts.
He was appointed secretary in the Delhi BJP in 2009. He was part of several committees before being appointed the Delhi unit’s vice president in 2020.
In 2017, he became a member of the BJP’s good governance cell at the national level. Currently, he is an associate executive member of the Indian Olympic Association.
In the recently held municipal polls, Sachdeva was made co-in charge of the north-east Delhi parliamentary constituency from where the party won the second highest number of municipal wards.
Sachdeva is the first Punjabi leader to be elevated to the top post (though he is a working president) in the Delhi BJP after veteran leader Om Prakash Kohli in 2009.
BJP MLA Vijender Gupta, former MP Vijay Goel, MP Harsh Vardhan and Adesh Gupta (who was a councillor in the erstwhile corporations) have held the post since 2011.
In 2016, the BJP appointed actor-turned-politician and north-east Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari as the Delhi unit chief in a bid to woo the Purvanchali community, which now plays a decisive role in Delhi’s electoral politics.
“It is after nearly 11 years that a Punjabi has been given the charge to head the state unit. Over the years, the community, which is a strong supporter of the BJP, has felt neglected. The result is visible in the municipal elections, as the BJP has lost in Punjabi-majority areas such as Uttam Nagar, Hari Nagar, etc,” said a senior leader, asking not to be named.
Gupta was in charge of the Delhi unit since June 2020. Though his term will end next year, the recent defeat has prompted murmurs of a course correction.
Under Gupta’s leadership, the party lost two bypolls (municipal and assembly) and the municipal elections.
“I take responsibility for the loss and that’s why I have resigned,” said Gupta.