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Saturday, January 4, 2014

AAP gets set for Lok Sabha polls; Kejriwal opts out 01-05

AAP gets set for Lok Sabha polls; Kejriwal opts out

First list of candidates in 10-15 days; to have separate manifesto for each constituency
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
Buoyed by its recent success in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday laid out its national plan, even as the party’s star campaigner and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he would not fight the coming Lok Sabha elections.

“AAP will contest the Lok Sabha elections in as many states and on as many seats as possible. We will try to list out the names of most of our candidates by mid-February — the latest by the end of February” said AAP leader Prashant Bhushan. The party expects to replicate its recent success in Delhi and cash in on people’s dissatisfaction with mainstream political parties.

Kejriwal said he was not contesting the Lok Sabha elections because he wanted to focus on his present job as Delhi’s chief minister.

“I won’t break the trust of the people who have elected me”, he said. Earlier, party leader and strategist Yogendra Yadav had said he would like to see Kejriwal as prime minister.

“It is my dream to see Kejriwal as PM,” Yadav said. He added the country needed better alternatives to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Saturday’s decision was taken after a meeting of the party’s 23-member national executive committee (NEC), its core decision-making body, at Constitutional Club here.

Though the party did not disclose the exact number of constituencies in which it would field its candidates, AAP sources said the party was likely to contest the elections on about 300 seats. The party is in the process of finalising the names of individual leaders who will head its state units. These leaders, to be picked from within the party, will be responsible for deciding on candidates in their respective states and working on regional manifestos, besides other things.

The party also said that it would have separate manifestos for each Lok Sabha constituency where it would field its candidate, as it did in Delhi.

Refuting the criticism that AAP’s impact was limited to cities, Bhushan said the party’s presence in rural areas was the same as that in urban parts of the country. The party claims to be present in 309 districts through 22 state units. But the Supreme Court lawyer clarified that AAP would contest only from those states where it would find reasonable structures and good candidates.

“People in rural areas are as excited about AAP as those in urban areas — people in some villages are more excited than those in cities,” Bhushan said. He added that people now wanted an alternative to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. AAP, he said, was a people’s movement, and not just a political party. “AAP believes the government should run according to people’s wishes.”

The party has so far avoided answering questions on who would be its prime ministerial candidate. On Saturday, it deflected the question by saying a would be taken after the elections.

“Arvind Kejriwal is the supreme leader of the party but we have not decided on the name of our prime ministerial candidate,” Bhushan said. Another party leader, Sanjay Singh, said: “The first list of AAP candidates for the coming Lok Sabha elections will be out in 10 to 15 days. The process for selection of candidates followed during the Delhi Assembly election will be followed in the Lok Sabha elections as well.”

Replicating its strategy in Delhi, the party said it will have separate manifestos for each constituency of the Lok Sabha where it will fielding its candidates.