After taking on names like Rahul Gandhi and Kapil Sibal in their first list, the Aam Aadmi Party continued with its strategy of pitting candidates against political heavyweights in its second list of 30 names for the Lok Sabha elections announced on Thursday.
Candidates have been pitted against Congress bigwigs like Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Meenakshi Natarajan, Sandeep Dikshit, Preneet Kaur as well as senior leaders of the BJP including Sushma Swaraj and Gopinath Munde.
The declarations see the number of candidates announced by the AAP up to 50, after 20 names were announced in the first list that the party released.
The list pits Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi against incumbent MP Sandeep Dikshit, son of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, from East Delhi. Shinde, who was at the centre of the party’s ire during its tenure as the government of Delhi, will face Lalit Babar, a banker-turned-social activist from Solapur in Maharashtra.
Much like the first list, the second list is a mixed cast of characters ranging from social activists, lawyers, bureaucrats and doctors. Interestingly, the party seems to have put its faith in retired servicemen, with three such names including former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Raj Kadyan to contest from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.
Despite the party’s focus on Gujarat in recent weeks, there was only one name announced from Gujarat, that of Shekhada Atulbhai Govindbhai, who will fight against Dinubhai Solanki in Junagarh. Solanki has been named repeatedly by the AAP as an example of Narendra Modi’s failure to remove criminal elements from his Gujarat cabinet, with serious charges against him.
Of the 30 names, 10 come from Maharashtra, where the majority of the candidates are those involved with social work. Names include Dilip Mhaske from Jalna, theatre activist Nandu Madhav against Gopinath Munde, and Sanjeev Sane from Thane. Reflective of the party’s tie up with the Bharatiya Kisan Union in Haryana, Balwinder Kaur, a member of the BKU, has been given a ticket against Naveen Jindal. The list also features Dr Rajan Sushant from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, who joined the AAP last week. Sushant, who was the incumbent MP from Kangra on a BJP ticket, had left the party accusing the state leadership of corruption and may face his one time mentor Shanta Kumar from the seat.
The second list also sees the announcement of the party’s first candidate from J&K in Dr Muzaffar Bhat, who will contest against National Conference president Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar.