The Aam Aadmi Party has sought to strike a balance by giving tickets to people from diverse fields like media, corporate world, films and academics besides social activists, former defence personnel and retired bureaucrats for the Lok Sabha elections.
Former CEO and Chairperson of RBS India Meera Sanyal, social activist Medha Patkar, actress Gul Panag, academician Rajmohan Gandhi and journalist Ashutosh are among the 242 candidates announced by the party so far for its debut Lok Sabha elections.
“After its success in the Delhi assembly elections, the party has got tremendous response with people from across the country wanting to become members. With this, also came a long list of people wanting to contest on a party ticket,” said an AAP leader.
While party leader Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t mince words when it comes to attacking the media, it is ironic that it has given a sizeable number of tickets to journalists. Mukul Tripathi, Ashish Khetan, Jarnail Singh, who had flung his shoe on P. Chidambaram, and former Time journalist Anita Pratap are among them.
Ashutosh will contest against Union minister Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk constituency in New Delhi.
Despite the erstwhile AAP government’s decision of scrapping FDI in retail, it has managed to find candidates from the corporate world as well. Ms. Sanyal has been named to take on Union minister Milind Deora from South Mumbai. K. Balakrishnan, former Chief Financial Officer of Infosys, would be contesting from Bangalore Central.
The party has also managed to field activists, who for years, have been taking up cudgels against various state governments over different issues.
Narmada Bachao Andolan pioneer Ms. Patkar is in fray from Mumbai North-east while another NBA activist Alok Agarwal is contesting from Khandwa. Similarly, tribal activist Soni Sori is contesting from Bastar in Chhattisgarh whereas anti-Posco leader Lingraj is contesting from Bargarh in Odisha.
Experts from the field of academics, literary world and science are also in fray on AAP tickets. Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, is contesting from East Delhi whereas Malayali writer Sara Joseph is in fray from Thrissur in Kerala.
The party has also been able to attract serving and former bureaucrats. Former IPS officer Kanchan Choudhary Bhattacharya, first woman DGP of any state, will contest from Haridwar in Uttarakhand. From Baramati in Maharashtra, former IPS officer Suresh Khopade is contesting against NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s daughter.
In Kerala, the party has fielded former IPS officer Ajit Joy from Thiruvananthapuram, a seat currently held by Union minister and former UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor.
Incidentally, Mr. Joy quit IPS to join the United Nations’s Office on Drugs and Crime. He later quit UN to join AAP.
Gul Panag and several actors from regional industry are also contesting on AAP tickets.
The party too has been able to strike a balance by giving tickets to its old leaders and those joining recently. While on the one hand, it has fielded Kumar Vishwas against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, on other hand, former BJP MP Rajan Sushant is in fray from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh on AAP ticket. Party leader Shazia Ilmi is contesting from Ghaziabad against Raj Babbar, the Congress candidate.
However, there has also been dissidence against the party’s decision over selection of candidates. Party workers have often levelled charges that the all powerful Political Affairs Committee, which gives final approval for candidate selection, has been imposing candidates.
“Party’s choice of Ashish Khetan, Rajmohan Gandhi and Ashutosh has been improper. They have been imposed upon us,” said a party worker unhappy with the choice of candidates.
“The party called for candidates, asked them to fill forms, and took their data for its own purpose,” party’s dissident National Council member Ashwini had recently alleged.