In less than four days of launching its nationwide membership drive, more than 3.7 lakh people, including several retired IAS and IPS officers and politicians, joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Uttar Pradesh, taking the tally to well over 7.5 lakh even as a state secretary of the ruling Samajwadi Party announced support for Kumar Vishwas.
Former deputy mayor of Ajmer, Sonam Singh Kinnar, a eunuch who was in fray for a Samajwadi Party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Amethi and had already started campaigning, announced support for Vishwas —- the AAP’s likely candidate against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Sonam, the SP state secretary who had recently refused a minister of state status offered by UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, was party’s star campaigner during last year’s Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh. Sonam has also been provided a government residence at Park Road in Lucknow.
Among the prominent retired officers who joined the AAP, include, Ajay Singh (IPS) and Vishal Nath Rai and Rama Shanker Singh (both IAS). Former Gorakhpur University vice-chancellor Radhey Mohan Mishra also joined the party during its Amethi rally on Sunday.
AAP sources said, many second rung leaders of political parties are also lining up to join the party. Many smaller organisations, such as UP Adarsh Vyapar Mandal, have also decided to support AAP while many more are lined up.
Since the launch of AAP’s ‘Main bhi aam aadmi’ free membership drive on January 10, at least 24,000 people joined the party in Lucknow with Varanasi (14,000), Ghaziabad (13,500), Kanpur (15,000), Bareilly (16,000) and Agra (12,000) recording good response.