After its successful debut in the Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday released its first list of 20 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, targeting many senior leaders across party lines including Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Manish Tewari, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RLD chief Ajit Singh.
The list, declared a month behind schedule, included social activists, former journalists, former bureaucrats and even a scientist. Prominent among these are AAP leaders Yogendra Yadav (Gurgaon), Kumar Vishwas (Amethi) and Ashutosh (Chandni Chowk, Delhi), activist Medha Patkar (Mumbai North East) and banker Meera Sanyal (Mumbai South).
Meanwhile, there were reports that Soni Sori, arrested earlier for her alleged links with Maoists, would be the AAP candidate from Bastar, Chhattisgarh. While her name did not figure in the first list, Sori told The Indian Express that she had been contacted by AAP leader Prashant Bhushan and would contest from Bastar.
“An offer came from the party and I want to enter politics as well. Prashant Bhushan met me on Sunday… I have no fear about contesting from Bastar… What draws me to the AAP is that it is fighting for the truth, just like me. The party will make an announcement soon,” said Sori.
The list declared on Sunday had candidates for some of the seats in eight states. Besides Ashutosh, there are two other former mediapersons — Mukul Tripathi and Jarnail Singh. Tripathi is the party’s candidate from Farrukhabad, a seat held by Union Minister Salman Khurshid.
Interestingly, the party has fielded Jarnail Singh, who made national headlines in 2009 after he hurled a shoe during a press conference at then Home Minister P Chidambaram in protest against the lack of action in the 1984 Sikh riots cases. Singh has been pitted against Delhi Congress leader Mahabal Mishra in West Delhi, which has a sizeable Sikh population.
The list includes three former civil servants: Baba Hardev Singh, a retired Provincial Civil Services officer, will contest against SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri; former Information Commissioner Habung Peyang is in the fray from Arunachal West; and Vijay Pandhare, who was Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, Haryana, has been fielded from Nashik. It also has Dr Jiyalal Ram, a scientist with the National Institute of Oceanography, who has been fielded from Lalganj in Uttar Pradesh.
The first list comes two weeks after AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal announced a list of “corrupt” leaders that the party would field “strong candidates” against.
“This is just the first list of 20 candidates. In this list, we have already included six leaders from the list that Arvindji spoke of — Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Suresh Kalmadi, Nitin Gadkari and Rahul Gandhi. There is also H S Phoolka, who has always fought for the 1984 riot victims, against Manish Tewari in Ludhiana. We are looking for strong and clean personalities,” said Sanjay Singh, a member of the AAP’s Political Affairs Committee.
Sources said the party has included as many social activists as possible in the first list to encourage more NGOs and social groups to come into the AAP fold. Besides Medha Patkar, the list includes Mayank Gandhi (Mumbai North West), farmer leader Lingraj (Bargarh, Orissa) and Alok Agarwal (Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh).
“Additionally, we have included names like Anjali Damania and Vijay Pandhare, who are known anti-corruption activists in Maharashtra. Both of them together blew the lid off the irrigation scam in Maharashtra, because of which Ajit Pawar had to resign. Damania then took on Nitin Gadkari as well,” said a party source.