Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday announced that the former Miss India-turned-actor-turned social activist, Gul Panag, would be its candidate from the lone seat of the Union Territory, Chandigarh, also know as City Beautiful.
Her candidature was announced by the AAP’s senior leader, Manish Sisodia, at the Chandigarh Press Club, where the press conference was marred by chaos after some ‘disgruntled’ party activists attempted to make their point heard. The party decided to field Ms Panag after its previous candidate Savita Bhatti, wife of social satirist late Jaspal Bhatti, decided to withdraw from the contest, following major dissensions.
On her joining electoral politics, Ms Panag said that the change which she envisaged for the country could not become a reality by merely standing in the sidelines. She said that while AAP provided the opportunity to fight against corruption, communalism, dynastic rule and crony capitalism, the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal offered hope for the common citizen to get his rightful place in a free country.
Ms Panag refused to accept that she was a "paratrooper candidate" as her grandfather Col S.S. Panag had settled in the city way back in 1960, when Chandigarh was still developing. Downplaying her "celebrity" status, she said that after receiving education in a Kendriya Vidyalaya and Government College, like any other youth of her age, she proceeded to realise her dreams.
She said as Chandigarh was ‘home’ for her, she was delighted to get an opportunity to serve its people. She said that problems faced by the people in the city were akin to those at the national level.
Apart from Ms Panag, the AAP had previously announced the candidature of well known political and social satirist Bhagwant Mann, noted human rights' lawyer H.S. Phoolka and former Minister Sucha Singh Chhotepur from Sangrur, Ludhiana and Gurdaspur respectively.
Talking to The Hindu, Mr Phoolka refused to accept that the AAP had chosen him because of his campaign to get justice for the families of the victims of the November 1984 anti-Sikh carnage. He said the AAP was seeking a change from the system where politicians tried to strike a bargain with the people by announcing grants from the public exchequer.
Mr. Mann said that he may perhaps be the only candidate in the country who was simultaneously facing two sitting MPs. While the Congress has fielded Vijay Inder Singla who represents the seat in Lok Sabha, the Akali Dal contestant, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, is a Rajya Sabha member. Mr Mann joined the AAP after parting ways with the People's Party of Punjab headed by Manpreet Singh Badal, who has forged an alliance with the Congress to contest the Bathinda seat.