On the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls are 23 new names, many who shifted from other parties to AAP recently, a few sitting municipal councillors, and three of its seven 2019 Lok Sabha candidates who lost.
The party has replaced 14 sitting MLAs and brought in new people to contest nine seats where the MLAs had been disqualified, and the four seats it lost in the 2015 polls and the 2017 bypoll.
Atishi, who contested the Lok Sabha polls from the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, will contest from Kalkaji; Raghav Chadha, who contested from the South Delhi seat, will contest from Rajinder Nagar; and Dilip Pandey, who contested from the North East Delhi seat, will contest from Timarpur constituency.
The party, like in previous years, has been first off the block among its two main competitors — BJP and Congress — when it comes to declaring the names of candidates. Names for all 70 seats were declared Tuesday. The decision was taken in the Political Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday evening.
Best wishes to all. Don’t be complacent. Work v hard. People have lot of faith in AAP and u. God bless. https://t.co/JuuvriCoNG
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who will contest from New Delhi, advised candidates to not be complacent. According to party sources, recent surveys have shown that AAP stands a good chance to win 59 seats.
“Best wishes to all. Don’t be complacent. Work very hard. People have lot of faith in AAP and you. God bless,” he tweeted.
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia will contest from Patparganj and all ministers will contest from the seats they were elected from in 2015. AAP had fielded six women candidates in 2015. This time, the number is eight.
Among those that were excluded from the list were Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri and Delhi Cantonment MLA Surender Singh.
Shastri, grandson of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who quit his jobs as sales head for Apple in western India and joined the party in 2013, has been replaced by Vinay Kumar Mishra, son of senior Delhi Congress leader Mahabal Mishra, who joined the party on Monday.
Speaking to The Indian Express before the list was out, Shastri had said: “I will contest for sure if the party wants me to. As for Mahabal Mishra and his son, both lost their deposits in the elections they contested between 2013 (Assembly) and 2019 (Lok Sabha),” he said. He did not respond to calls after the final list was released. Surender Singh, a former NSG Commando who was injured during the 26/11 operation at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, has been replaced by his lawyer and former campaign manager Virender Singh Kadian.
Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar has been replaced by senior AAP leader Dilip Pandey. Pushkar had fallen out with party leaders after former members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were expelled, but had started attending meetings and party events over the last year.
According to sources, the final list was prepared after a series of feedback exercises undertaken over the past few months — including those done by Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC, which has come on board recently.
“In the various surveys that were done, people who have been denied a ticket this time around had performed poorly. People said these MLAs have not done much for the constituency and that they do not meet them regularly. In a survey done a few months ago, many other names were highlighted but they managed to improve their performance. In our ticket selection, winnability has been key,” said a senior AAP leader.
Abdul Rahman, who replaced Haji Ishraque as the party’s face from Seelampur, was named in an FIR filed by police in connection with the violence in the area during anti-CAA protests.
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