The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) plans to field candidates in the general elections next month in its pursuit to gain ground in Gujarat. However, it has scaled down its ambition since the 2014 polls when it contested 24 seats in the state. This time, the party will only contest from five parliamentary constituencies including Mehsana, Banaskantha, Jamnagar, Junagadh and Kutch.
In a meeting held Saturday, AAP’s state party leaders forwarded the candidatures of probable Lok Sabha candidates from these five parliamentary seats to the Political Affairs Committee in Delhi for consideration. The list of potential candidates includes mostly office-bearers of the party from the respective parliamentary constituencies.
The candidates from Mehsana include Rajesh Patel, Secretary General of AAP, Hasmukh Patel, District President. Four names have been forwarded from Banaskantha which include Bhemabhai Choudhary, Vice President of AAP Gujarat, Rameshbhai Thakkar, Vice President of the North Gujarat Zone, Nareshbhai Nabhani, President of AAP, North Gujarat zone and Maganbhai Pala. Click here for more election news
According to top party leaders in the state, the decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections from these constituencies came in the wake of Congress MLAs resigning from their parties and joining the BJP. AAP leaders believe this could work in the party’s favour. So, now the party plans to contest the Assembly by-elections in such constituencies along with the parliamentary elections. “Initially we wanted to contest the next Assembly elections and skip this general elections,” AAP state President Kishore Desai said. “However, looking at the present scenario of MLAs from the Congress resigning from their parties and joining the BJP, we decided to contest the byelections to these seats and along with that we also decided to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the respective Parliamentary constituencies.” The party has, however, not released the list of probables for the Assembly bypolls.
In 2014, the Aam Aadmi Party had failed to emerge as a third option in the state and ended up with just 1.5% of the votes polled. In the 2017 again, AAP contested from 30-odd seats for the 182-member Gujarat assembly election but failed to register a win in any of the seats. However, in three seats, Chhota Udepur, Wankaner and Bapunagar, the party was able to make its presence felt somewhat in the Assembly elections.
Desai said that apart from “fighting corruption, lack of jobs and education and every issue that affects the common man, this time it will also be about ideology.” He believes that with the leaders here “changing parties for power, the AAP will benefit by catering to the demands of the common man”.
AAP says it has more than 3 lakh registered members in the state with over 6,000 active office-bearers. Talking about the trajectory of the party in Gujarat, a senior leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “In 2014, we had very few party workers. There was no proper organisation as such but there was a huge impact of (the popularity of) AAP in Delhi here in Gujarat, and so we fought from 24 of the 26 seats.
“In 2017, the failure in Punjab, which the party was very confident of winning, affected the party machinery. The support from Delhi dwindled after the state failed to choose and project candidates. There have also been financial crisis plaguing the party. And though the number of members in the party has increased manifold with as many active members as well, the decision to not contest elections is a big discouragement to party members,” the senior leader said.