A familiar face in senior leader Sanjay Singh, and two new entrants — chartered accountant N D Gupta and former Congress leader and Delhi-based businessman Sushil Gupta — are AAP nominees to the Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday.
The names were announced after two meetings — the first between AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and the Delhi MLAs, and a second of the AAP Political Affairs Committee (PAC).
Maintaining that the MLAs “unanimously” agreed to the three choices, Sisodia said “only one member of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee had voted for two of the nominees and against the third”. The party later said AAP leader and spokesperson Ashutosh had voted against Sushil Gupta’s nomination.
After the meetings, the Deputy Chief Minister said, “After discussions over eight names in the PAC, we decided to nominate party leader Sanjay Singh, former president of
ICAI Narain Dass Gupta and social worker Sushil Gupta for Rajya Sabha.”
He cited Singh’s work within the party and as a “grassroot” activist in Uttar Pradesh, N D Gupta’s contribution in the field of economics and government policies, and Sushil Gupta’s work in sponsoring the education of 15,000 underprivileged children. Party sources said N D Gupta’s firm has handled AAP’s accounts for the last six months.
Kumar Vishwas, a PAC member, was noticeably absent from the meeting. Vishwas had reiterated his desire to be nominated to Rajya Sabha, but the rift between him and the party top brass has widened over the last few months. “For the past year-and-a-half, be it the PAC or my elder brother Arvind Kejriwal’s decisions on issues such as the surgical strike, taking a soft stand on terrorists, his silence on ticket distribution or JNU… whatever truth I spoke, I have been punished for it today,” Vishwas said Wednesday.
Besides Vishwas, some in the party questioned the choice of Sushil Gupta, owner of Delhi’s Ganga group of institutions and hospitals. In 2013, he had contested the Assembly elections on a Congress ticket from Moti Nagar but had lost. At the time, his election affidavit recorded his total financial assets at Rs 164.44 crore.
The party had initially looked at prominent personalities.
But several rejections later, it started looking for “grassroot leaders”. Sisodia said, “All those who declined did so while agreeing with us. But while some said they would lose their independence in their field by joining us, others feared that the present central government would target them.”
“There was a lot of discussion in the party about sending someone from within. Some were for the idea, others weren’t. There were questions about who will contest Lok Sabha. Arvind (Kejriwal) wanted someone from the outside,” said Sisodia.
Among those who turned down AAP’s offer were former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and former Chief Justice of India T S Thakur.
The party also considered its own leaders, including Ashutosh, Ashish Khetan, Raghav Chadha, Pankaj Gupta, Prithvi Reddy, Ashish Talwar, Dilip Pandey, Deepak Bajpai, Atishi Marlena and Sanjay Singh. Only Sanjay Singh’s candidature saw unanimous agreement.
The elections for three Rajya Sabha members from Delhi are scheduled for January 16 as terms of the incumbent members — Dr Karan Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Parvez Hashmi — all from the Congress expire on January 27.