The Aam Aadmi Party has begun the process of selecting candidates from Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections and staged interviews of applicants on Friday. The party, which will contest all 80 seats in the State, is expected to release the first list of candidates next week after February 15.
More than 800 applicants are in the race for AAP ticket in UP. The applicants include retired bureaucrats, former judges, social workers, retired army personnel, defectors from other parties and professionals.
The AAP, which is gunning for seats held by political bigwigs, has already made it clear that poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas would fight from Amethi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's seat. AAP national executive member Prem Singh Pahadi is likely to contest from the Phulpur seat in Allahabad. Two-time MP from UP Ilyas Azmi is also likely to run from a seat in the State. Additional District and Sessions from Judge Arun Kumar Tripathi, who took voluntary retirement and joined the AAP, expects to contest from Deoria in eastern UP.
Other possible candidates include retired medical practitioner A.K. Srivastava and railway union leader Shiv Gopal Mishra.
The party is likely to field prominent candidates against Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), BJP president Rajnath Singh (Ghaziabad) and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh (Mainpuri) and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.
The party is also likely to eye seats that are represented by leaders who have corruption or other criminal charges against them.
Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal (Kanpur), External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid (Farukkhabad) and Unnao MP Anu Tandon figure in Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's most corrupt list.
Incidentally, the maximum applications received by the AAP are for the Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Mainpuri, Shravasti, Kanpur, Qaiserganj, Jaunpur and Kannauj seats. Kannuaj is held by UP CM AKhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav. Alleged mafia don-turned-politician and former Phulpur MP Atiq Ahmed has got the SP ticket from Shravasti, while Azamgarh is held by BJP leader Ramakant Yadav, also a don-turned politician.
The party could also field a prominent candidate from Sultanpur, from where Varun Gandhi is likely to contest. AAP national spokesperson Sanjay Singh hails from Sultanpur.
The second bunch of candidates will be interviewed starting Sunday, said Aruna Singh, AAP Awadh coordinator. The selection list will be submitted to the district working committee, which will then transfer it to the zonal screening committee. The report will be submitted to the party's Political Affairs Committee (PAC) which will take the final call on the candidates. The short listing will be done on the parameters set by the party leadership, Ms. Singh said.