To contest a maximum number of Lok Sabha seats in the State

Buoyed by its success in the Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to contest “a maximum number of Lok Sabha seats” in Maharashtra. After a State-level meeting here on Monday, the party said it had started inviting applications for candidature.

“We will look for dedicated people and field as many candidates as possible,” AAP national executive member Mayank Gandhi said. There are 48 Lok Sabha seats in the State.

“Aware that it will have to take on political bigwigs, the party is banking on the popular mood of seeking an honest alternative,” Mr. Gandhi told The Hindu.

The applications will go through a screening process involving district committees, the State executive committee and the national committee, and people’s feedback will also be counted.

AAP member and RTI activist Anjali Damaniya said corruption and price rise would be the main issues on which the AAP would fight the 2014 elections.

Mr. Gandhi said members of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Congress, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena had approached the State leadership, and would be shifting to the AAP. “Our criteria for everyone remain the same: we want only honest people,” he said.

The party would approach movements and social activists all over the State to join the party. Talks were on with the farmers’ organisation, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, led by MP Raju Shetty and other similar organisations, he said.

Asked how the party would approach the issue of minorities, he said, “We will have representation for everyone, but we will not indulge in identity politics. If we get good Dalit, SC/ST or Muslim workers, we will field them as AAP members and not based on their identity.” The party would not change its policies for any group, he said.

Earlier, the party announced that Dalit leader Lalit Babar was joining the AAP to help in its “fight for social justice.”

Responding to a question whether the AAP would support members from the LGBT community as it had spoken out against the recent Supreme Court ruling which had criminalised gay sex, Mr. Gandhi said, “We have said we will not discriminate anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation. If they fit into our criteria, we will welcome them in the party.”