Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator from Delhi Atishi announced Sunday the first list of 504 candidates for the upcoming local body polls and said the party is projecting itself as an “alternative” to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat.
This is the first time the AAP will be contesting in the local body — taluka panchayat, zila panchayat, nagar palika and mahanagar palika — elections in Gujarat after its dismal performance in the 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly polls. The party had lost on all the 29 seats it had contested on and a majority of its candidates forfeited deposits.
At a press conference at the AAP office at Navrangpura area in Ahmedabad, Atishi said, “In the Gujarat model, we have seen the Dhaman fake ventilators scam whose connection goes to Rajkot, the hometown of the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. It is here that we have seen a scam in N95 masks… For the past 25 years, the people of Gujarat have had no option as both the BJP and the Congress have made a deal between themselves. The BJP uses the police and other agencies to threaten Congress MLAs and the latter meekly comply.”
Calling the Congress and the BJP “bedfellows”, she expressed confidence that “the AAP will stand up as the alternative to both the BJP and the Congress”. The party, she said, we will contest the polls on the issues of corruption, public health and education in Gujarat.
The AAP is the first party to have announced candidates for the local body polls, likely to be held in February. Earlier, the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) said it will contest the polls in the state in alliance with the AIMIM. BJP president JP Nadda is also scheduled to attend a meeting with party leaders Monday, ahead of the upcoming elections.
“Usually, political parties release the names of candidates just days before the filing of nominations but the AAP has released the names one a half months before so that the voters can have time to study our candidates and offer valuable suggestions. We have also started an email id where anyone can submit a complaint against any of our candidates if they are found involved in any criminal activity,” Atishi said. Thirty-one per cent of the 504 candidates are women, the AAP leader said.
Some prominent contenders on the list include Shivlal Barasiya, the former president of Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Rajbha Zala, a former BJP leader who served as a standing committee chairman at the Rajkot Municipal Corporation.
Gopal Italia, the chairman of Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “There is rampant corruption in government offices in Gujarat. Recently, the Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested a constable for seeking Rs 50 lakh in bribe. How does a constable have the courage to seek such a hefty bribe? We will fight on the issue of clean governance here, which we have delivered in Delhi.”
Asked if the AAP will serve as a fiddle to the Congress in 2022 Gujarat Vidhan Sabha polls by cutting into their voter base, Atishi said, “It is the same Congress that had put similar allegations against us in 2015 Delhi Assembly polls and they were routed by the public.”
FIR against 3 AAP members for violating Covid protocol, clashing with police
AN FIR was filed against three members of the Gujarat unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), including its Ahmedabad president Amjad Khan Pathan, for allegedly organising a meet with more than the permissible number of volunteers, violating social-distancing norms, and clashing with police personnel at Naranpura area of the city on Sunday.
The case, police said, was lodged after dozens of AAP workers staged a sit-in on the main road of Naranpura and then clashed with police personnel to protest against the department’s decision to stop the meet for violating coronavirus protocol.
Pathan and two volunteers, Mihir Patel and Girish Rawal, were booked under Indian Penal Code sections 143 for unlawful assembly, 186 for obstructing public servant from discharge of duties, 332 for causing hurt to public servant in discharge of his duties, and 188 for disobedience to order given by public servant along with sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act.
According to police, Pathan had sought permission to hold a jan sabha (public meet) at Bhumi Party plot near Torrent Power office premises in Naranpura between 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm which would be attended by 70-75 people and presided over by MLA Atishi.
“The organisers of the meet had brought four times the prescribed limit of attendees and when they were stopped, they started protesting and sloganeering against the police by staging a sit-in on the main road outside the party’s plot to block the movement of traffic. AAP’s Gujarat president Gopal Italia climbed upon the PCR vehicle and started shouting slogans against the police and there were instances of them clashing with the policemen at the party plot, thereby violating social-distancing norms. Moreover, the protest continued till 4 pm whereas permission for the meet was given till 2.30 pm,” the complaint by the police against AAP members at Gujarat University police station read.
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