After much anticipation and speculation, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced that in his electoral debut he will take on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the coming Delhi Assembly elections.
Speaking at a convention-cum-press conference organised to announce his ‘debut’, Mr. Kejriwal used the opportunity to argue that Delhi residents no longer consider the Bharatiya Janata Party as a party which can defeat the Congress.
He alleged that the BJP was playing “fixed matches with a corrupt Congress”. The AAP had organised its convention to decide on candidates and the seats which they will contest in the Delhi Assembly elections.
Mr. Kejriwal’s desire to contest against the Chief Minister was supported by party members including senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan.
A final decision on whether Mr. Kejriwal will contest against Ms. Dikshit, however, will be taken only after the party’s screening committee approves his request – a process which observers say will be a mere formality in his case.
Meanwhile, the party has also announced a list of 44 shortlisted candidates for 12 seats. The list includes Shazia Ilmi from R.K. Puram and Manish Sisodia from Patparganj.
“We have decided to take on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Diskhit because the aam aadmi of Delhi wants to get rid of her as she has become the symbol of corruption. In case, out of fear Sheila Dikshit decides to avoid such a contest in her New Delhi constituency and moves to another, I will also move to the seat from where she will contest,” added Mr. Kejriwal.
Meanwhile, the former protégé of Anna Hazare also challenged Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel to contest against him and Ms. Dikshit. Mr. Kejriwal accused the principle Opposition party in the Delhi Assembly of fielding “weak candidates” against the Chief Minister.
“Only AAP can defeat the Congress in Delhi in the coming Assembly elections. The Opposition party (BJP) doesn’t have the strength to defeat the corrupt ruling party. People have also realised that the BJP deliberately fields weak candidates against Ms. Dikshit. The BJP and the Congress have indulged in this match fixing for the past 15 years. The BJP is hand in glove with Ms. Dikshit,” he claimed.
When asked why Mr. Kejriwal was not contesting against Mr. Goel, party leader Kumar Vishwas sarcastically said that the BJP was not in the picture.
“The BJP is already out of the political scenario and the AAP is the strong new entrant,” he said.
Supporting Mr. Kejriwal’s decision to contest against Ms. Dikshit, Prashant Bhushan said: “If we want to change the political system of the country, we will have to take on the symbols of this political system. Ms. Dikshit is a prominent symbol of the corrupt system.”