Spotlight is on the East Delhi seat as candidates announced by the three key political parties have made the run interesting. One out of the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in the national capital, East Delhi is witnessing a contest between an educationist, a former cricketer and a politician who has been a turncoat - Atishi from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Gautam Gambhir from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Arvinder Singh Lovely from Congress.
The constituency is crucial as it has been closely contested between the BJP and Congress in the past. In nearly the past three decades it has largely been a BJP stronghold with the exception of two terms of senior Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, son of former chief minister Sheila Dikshit. In 2014, BJP's Maheish Giri defeated AAP's Rajmohan Gandhi by more than 1.9 lakh votes and Dikshit was a distant third.
A look at the key contestants this time:
Atishi: A member of the political affairs committee of the AAP, Atishi has been an integral part of the party since its inception. In Delhi, she has served as an advisor to the education minister and has worked on key projects to revamp the education system in the national capital.
37 year old Atishi is a graduate from St Stephens College in Delhi who then went on to pursue her Masters from Oxford College. She is also a Rhodes Scholar in Educational Research from Oxford. Before entering politics, Atishi has worked as an activist to bring change in the education systems in Madhya Pradesh.
Having been on the sidelines of electoral politics since 2013, Atishi is contesting elections for the first time. Over a year before elections, she was appointed in-charge for the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency where she has been working to prepare the party organisation for the general elections.
Gautam Gambhir: Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir entered the world of politics after he joined the BJP last month. The 37 year old has represented India in several international matches and played a key role in India’s win in the 2011 World Cup. Gambhir is also a recipient of the Padma Shri award, the fourth highest civilian award.
Gambhir while joining the party had credited the vision of the Narendra Modi government as his motivation to join politics. He was inducted in the party by union ministers Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad. Born and brought up in the national capital, the party is hoping to bank on his connect with the city. A month since he joined BJP, Gambhir has already faced controversy. He was in a twitter spat with former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Arvinder Singh Lovely: Former chief of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) and a state minister, Lovely had switched over to the BJP in the early 2017 ahead of the MCD elections saying that the party was 'finished' under the leadership. But, that did not last long and nearly 10 months later, he returned to Congress saying he was an 'ideological misfit' in BJP, a realisation that he had a 'day after he joined the party'.
A close aide of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Lovely, is a prominent Sikh face in the national capital and the party is hopeful that his experience of governance in the past would help him perform well. He began his political career as a youth leader and was first elected to the legislative assembly in 1998 when he was one of the youngest MLAs.