The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had hailed the recent Supreme Court order on voters’ right to reject candidates, has got a taste of its own medicine.
Scores of party volunteers from the Uttam Nagar constituency in west Delhi are on a dharna to protest AAP’s decision to field Deshraj Raghav. The protesters claimed most of them had opted for the “none of the above” option during preferential elections from among the short-listed candidates. Yet, the party leadership did not pay heed to their disapproval.
“The original list of volunteers had just 47 names. The party office bearers who came to conduct the voting added 24 names after which they took away ballot boxes and declared Raghav’s name,” Deepak Kumar Choudhary, a local volunteer amongst the protestors, said.
Another volunteer, Ranjan Rahee, claimed: “Deshraj had filed an affidavit before the Lokayukta wherein he had agreed that there were four kerosene oil depots in his and his family members’ name. He has been associated with Mukesh Sharma, MLA from the area for the past 20 years.”
Manish Sisodia, AAP spokesperson and also a member of the party’s screening committee, dismissed the corruption allegation as an “excuse” and claimed the candidate-designate did not have any ration shop now. “There was one ration shop in his wife’s name but they surrendered it in 2011. The allegations about his father’s pension too are false. Also, the volunteers’ claim about the way voting was conducted are not true but it was done according to the process.”
“We still say bring concrete proof of corruption against him, we will cancel his candidature.”
But the volunteers have not budged and started the protests on Saturday. So what will the party do to redress their grievance? “Kuchch nahee (Nothing). These are men from Sharma’s camp, he is afraid Deshraj will win the seat,” Sisodia said.
Choudhary said: “Our actual demand is basic. Arvindji had promised that candidates would be selected with the consent of local volunteers. Where has that promise gone?”