After assurances by senior leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party that party tickets will not be given to sitting MLAs, a section of AAP volunteers, who had been sitting on hunger strike outside the party office for the last four days, ended their fast on Wednesday evening.
According to Deepak Bajpai, media spokesperson for the AAP, the party had always maintained that AAP MLAs will not be given tickets for the Lok Sabha polls.
Reiterating the party’s stand, Bajpai said, “The party policy from the beginning has been that Lok Sabha tickets will not be given to MLAs. The group of protesters sitting outside the office has been told this.
Moreover, they were relying on a few media reports, which said Rakhi Birla would be getting a party ticket for the polls. We explained to them that no decision had been taken until now.”
AAP chief and former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also said that his party would not give tickets for Lok Sabha elections to any MLAs.
“We will not give tickets to any MLAs,” he said in reply to a question about the protests his party has been facing protests after reports that Birla may be fielded against Krishna Tirath from Northwest Delhi.
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On Wednesday evening, senior AAP leader Gopal Rai met the protesters and persuaded them to call off their strike. Stating that the party did not have enough time to hold large-scale discussions to shortlist candidates, Rai assured them that the party had not shortlisted any AAP MLA for the Lok Sabha polls.
Five AAP volunteers from Mangolpuri, Bawana and Delhi Cantt were on hunger strike, opposing the manner in which the party was short-listing candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. Speculation about Birla getting a ticket from Northwest constituency seemed to have irked this section of AAP volunteers.
Earlier on Wednesday, Rahul Gupta, one of the five AAP volunteers sitting on hunger strike, said, “The party is going away from its policy of transparency in giving tickets. Decisions are being taken behind closed doors. Did those eight leaders go from house to house to meet people and ask for votes?”
A 22-year-old volunteer from Meerut, he claimed to have worked in Delhi Cantt area during the Assembly elections.
Following Rai’s visit, however, Gupta said they were convinced that the party did not have enough time to hold referendums for selecting Lok Sabha candidates. “We have been told that no sitting MLA will contest the Lok Sabha elections on an AAP ticket. Thus, we have called off our protest. If the party goes back on its promise, we will come here again,” he said.
Apart from Gupta, another AAP volunteer, sitting on hunger strike, was Manoj Kumar Nimesh. Having worked in Mangolpuri — the constituency where Birla defeated Congress heavyweight Raj Kumar Chauhan — Nimesh shared Gupta’s views that the party was deviating from its ideals.
“If the party had decided to nominate Birla for the Lok Sabha seat, why did they put up a show of inviting and scrutinising the applications. Today, they say that we are agents of the Congress or the BJP. They have deviated from their own ideals. If Arvindji says that we are wrong, we will call off the protest immediately,” Nimesh said.