Ritesh Chauhan, 32, who recently left an engineering job in the US, says he has no plans to return. Instead he wants to contest Lok Sabha elections from his native Amroha district in Uttar Pradesh.
Arun Kumar Tripathi, 55, who resigned as additional district judge harbours similar ambition. He wants to contest from Deoria constituency.
Normally, such newcomers end up as Independent candidates and, quite often, failures. But they want to throw in their lot with Aam Aadmi Party. That, they believe, makes the difference.
Therefore, when AAP conducted interviews to select candidates for general elections at Smridhi lawns on the outskirts of Lucknow on Friday, Chauhan and Tripathi stood in queue.
Along with them, businessmen, housewives and professionals who have quit jobs or plan to also tried their luck.
An attraction of the interviews was that instead of AAP leaders, common party workers were asking questions. The AAP is making debut in parliamentary polls.
On the first day of the event, 25 panels with three interviewers each tested as many as 1,111 aspirants about their understanding of LS polls, AAP’s vision, five relevant poll issues in their preferred constituencies and five weak points of AAP among other parameters.
Standing in one of the queues was AAP leader Kumar Vishwas, who plans to take on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the party’s traditional stronghold, Amethi. Former MP Ilyas Azmi was also an interviewee waiting for his turn.
“While Rahul Gandhi talks about organising primaries on US lines we have created history by asking common party workers to judge the aspirants for the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh,” said Ashutosh, TV journalist-turned politician.
As many aspirants are keen to contest on the AAP ticket as the ones knocking at the doors of two national political parties---Congress and BJP--- for a Lok Sabha ticket in Uttar Pradesh.
The fledgling party has received more than 1,500 applications for 80 seats it intends to contest in the state. The first list of selected candidates will be out next week.
This comes around to 18 hopefuls for each LS seat for AAP. While the BJP has received nearly 1,200 applications, the Congress, which is still compiling its data, claims it has received slightly more than BJP’s figure.
The highest number (140) of AAP aspirants are in Lucknow, followed by Kanpur with more than 100 applications. The neighboring Mohanlalganj, a semi urban constituency, has received 15 applications.
Tripathi, who gave up job five years before scheduled retirement date, said he was dissatisfied while working in judiciary and sees fresh hope in the emergence of AAP.
Vishwas reiterated that he will defeat the Congress scion on the party’s traditional turf.
“I am sure I will defeat Rahul Gandhi by a margin of 2 lakh votes.”
And Chauhan believes “he fared well in the interview and would get the ticket”.