Socialist leader Subhash Ware will be the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate from Pune Lok Sabha constituency where he faces challenge from the Congress and the BJP who have been traditional rivals. Among the “strong contenders” for the seat, AAP is the first one to have declared the name of its candidate, even though the final dates for elections are yet to be announced. The Congress and the BJP are still grappling with several “key names”.
The central leadership of AAP declared Ware’s name in New Delhi on Sunday but kept the suspense on for other seats like Maval, Baramati and Shirur in Pune district. Ware pipped former bureaucrat Arun Bhatia and realtor D S Kulkarni in the race to emerge as the party choice.
Though not an AAP member, Bhatia was trying hard to get the party’s nomination. After being denied ticket, he wasted no time in slamming the leadership, saying it “does not believe in supporting honest candidates”. “I am disappointed and surprised AAP did not pick me. I have nothing against Ware, but on merits I deserved to be nominated,” said Bhatia, stressing that there was “no difference between Congress, NCP, BJP and the AAP”. “They have nothing to do with honest and truthful candidates,” he said.
Bhatia said a letter that he wrote to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal against party leader Prashant Bhushan could be the reason why AAP cold-shouldered him. “After applying for AAP ticket, I had written to Kejriwal urging him to remove Prashant Bhushan from any post that he holds in the party. This is because there have been charges against Bhushan regarding his Noida plots and he has never clarified on the controversy,” he said.
Stating that he would now contest as an Independent, Bhatia said his fight would be against the BJP as the Congress had “lost fizz”. “Besides, I will highlight the double standards practised by AAP leadership,” said Bhatia who had twice unsuccessfully contested from the Pune seat. Bhatia had created ripples when he decided to enter politics in 2004. He secured 70,000 votes that year and managed only 30,000 votes in 2009.
Realtor D S Kulkarni, who was also hoping for an AAP ticket, too, debunked the party. He said there was a distinct “lack of transparency” on part of the party in allotting tickets. “We were asked to apply online and we did, but post that we did not understand how the tickets were given,” he said. Stating that the process smelt of the “high command culture” and it was not expected out of AAP, Kulkarni said he would not contest the election this time.
Meanwhile, Ware said their campaign had started last year itself. “We have been taking to streets on issues of corruption and misgoverance and we will continue to reach out to the people,” he said.
Other than highlighting the issues of public interest, Ware said, his party would raise issues related to inflation, lack of social security, old age pension and other matters before the voters. “There is complete dearth of public infrastructure in Pune and we will offer change through our party. Traffic jam, lack of infrastructure are plaguing the city and we will ask the voters to give us a chance to address these issues,” he said.
About the possibility of discontentment over his candidature, Ware said the party had chalked out a process that was followed to the dot. “Maybe I was chosen over others because I am an old worker of the party,” he said.
Who is SUBHASH WARE
Unlike other activists in Pune who never fail to remain in the limelight, Subash Ware has rarely been heard of. AAP leaders said he was actually an old hand in the socialist movement in the state. He has been associated with the Rashtriya Seva Dal, S M Joshi Foundation, Chhatrabharati and other organisations. He had participated and spearheaded agitations for pensioners’ rights, social security for unorganised sectors and other movements. Ware was one of the founding members of the AAP and is also part of the national executive committee of the party. APP picked Ware from among 40 who had applied online from Pune.