The Aam Aadmi Party unveiled its national ambitions on Saturday, announcing it would contest “maximum seats” in most states in the Lok Sabha elections though the face of the party, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, ruled himself out of the poll race.
“The AAP will fight the Lok Sabha elections, contest in the maximum number of states, and in as many seats as possible,” AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said on the first day of a two-day meeting of the party’s top decision-making body. “By February 15, the final list of AAP candidates contesting the general elections will be released,” he added.
Buoyed after passing the floor test in the Delhi assembly, the 23-member AAP national executive is geared up to chalk out a strategy for the 2014 general elections.
The bad news for the AAP, however, is that Kejriwal would not contest the Lok Sabha polls. He will focus more on his job as the Delhi chief minister instead.
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Earlier in the day, senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said the country should have better options than Bharatiya Janata Party prime minister nominee Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, triggering a buzz over the emergence of a new alternative. “My dream is to see Kejriwal as the prime minister. He is capable of it, but in politics one has to see ....strength and where we stand.”
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal leaves after the party's National Executive meeting in New Delhi. PTI
Kejriwal said Yadav's statement was out of love for him. "I am not contesting the Lok Sabha elections," Kejriwal told mediapersons. TV reports, however, claimed he would campaign for the party.
After its stellar performance in the Delhi assembly elections under the leadership of Kejriwal, the AAP is now eyeing an impressive debut in the Lok Sabha elections.
It won 28 seats in the 70-member House in the December 4 polls and formed a government in the Capital with the help of eight MLAs of the Congress, which was ousted by the rookie party.
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Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with AAP MLAs in Delhi Legislative Assembly. PTI
The AAP has even challenged Modi, planning to fight all the seats in the general elections on his home turf Gujarat. The party had earlier announced to field candidates from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Bhushan, who had in the past triggered a controversy after raising doubts over the stability of an AAP government in Delhi, said the party would field candidates in the Lok Sabha polls wherever “we have a reasonable (party) structure and we get good candidates”.
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The party, through its website, has sought applications from honest candidates who are willing to fight elections on AAP tickets.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who assured the first list of candidates will be out in 10 to 15 days, said the decision to enter the Lok Sabha battle had nothing to do with other political parties.
"We have made it clear that we have no alliance with the Congress in Delhi. We are not fighting elections to harm or benefit anyone," he said, adding it made no difference whether the AAP’s decision affected Modi or Gandhi.
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With IANS and PTI inputs