With meetings between MLAs and senior party volunteers running through December, the AAP is readying itself for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party’s Delhi convener, Gopal Rai, met party members from all seven Lok Sabha constituencies in December, outlining plans to strengthen booth-level engagement. All seven seats were swept by the BJP in 2014.
Party sources said the names of “at least four MLAs” are being considered as AAP candidates for the general elections.
In 2014, three MLAs had got tickets for the Lok Sabha polls — Mangolpuri MLA Rakhi Birla from northwest Delhi; former Rajouri Garden MLA Jarnail Singh from west Delhi; and Bijwasan MLA Devender Sehrawat from south Delhi. Senior party leader Ashutosh had contested from Chandni Chowk, Rajmohan Gandhi from east Delhi, Ashish Khetan from New Delhi, and former party member Anand Kumar from northeast Delhi.
While Anand Kumar left the party after a fallout in 2015, Sehrawat was suspended from AAP’s primary membership in 2016. Jarnail Singh contested the Punjab Assembly elections and lost, and is unlikely to be repeated as a candidate, a senior party official said, adding, “As for Rajmohan Gandhi, age might be an issue. The polls are still a while away, so the discussion of names is at a preliminary stage.”
Ashutosh said the preparations were on and several names were being discussed. “It is early to take a final decision but work has started on the ground. The decision whether or not to field me again rests entirely with the party, and the issue has not been discussed with me yet,” he said.
Party sources said that one contestant from 2014 who stands a strong chance to get a ticket in 2019 is Rakhi Birla.
“In 2014, people had seen the work of only a few MLAs, and that too for a few months. This time, we have the benefit of having had MLAs in the field and connecting with the electorate since 2015. The most popular MLAs have a chance at getting a ticket. The party brought in outsiders for two Rajya Sabha seats, but general elections are a different ball game. People need to identify with the candidates. A few MLAs have already been given indications and have been asked to visit Lok Sabha constituencies regularly,” a senior party leader said.