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The Aam Aadmi Party will not only contest all the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi but will also take on the Congress, whose support is crucial to its government in the Capital, in neighbouring Haryana and Maharashtra in assembly elections.
A day after it announced its plan to go national, AAP on Sunday said a nation-wide 14-day enrolment drive -- Main Bhi Aam Aadmi -- will open on January 10 even as it ruled out contesting all the 543 Lok Sabha seats.
After its spectacular poll debut in the Capital, AAP has seen a rush of people keen to join its ranks. Offices have sprung up across the country and donations are flowing in.
“Though it is sure that we will contest election from a large number of seats, at present we are not sure that we will contest all the 543 seats. We hope to contest from at least 15-20 states,” senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said at the end of two-day national executive meeting of the party.
While the party hopes to come out with its first list of candidates by January 20, it has clearly pinned hopes on Delhi and Haryana. The country’s youngest party will contest all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and all the 10 in Haryana. It will also fight the 90 assembly seats in the neighbouring state, where the Congress is serving second successive term.
In Maharashtra, where Bollywood stars such as Aamir Khan and music composer Vishal Dadlani have added to its surging support, AAP may contest all the 288 assembly seats, party’s state convener Anjali Damania said.
Along with Haryana and Maharashra, assembly polls are also due in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand
and Sikkim later this year.
AAP’s plans evoked mixed response from rivals. “AAP’s performance in the assembly elections in Delhi is a victory of the voice of people. The party’s emergence is a warning for all the parties,” Congress strategist and union minister Jairam Ramesh.
The party had redefined the political scenario (and) altered the political discourse, the minister said on Sunday. “If the Congress, BJP and regional parties do not listen to people’s voice, they will soon become history.”
Former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu, however, downplayed the AAP threat and said it would not have any impact at the national level as the Lok Sabha would be fought on different issues.
Yadav made it clear that the Lok Sabha candidates would be picked through a “rigorous screening process” and those facing corruption or criminal charges would not get a nomination.
The party, however, remained ambiguous on Arvind Kejriwal, who on Saturday had ruled himself out of the Lok Sabha race. When asked if he would contest, the Delhi CM said he would follow party’s directive. “It is for the party to decide whether or not Kejriwal will contest,” his party colleague Prashant Bhushan told a news channel later in the evening.