Undeterred by opinion polls predicting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would make limited impact in the Lok Sabha elections despite its performance in the Delhi polls, the party has decided to contest more than 350 of the total 543 seats.
It also plans to make corruption and criminalization of politics prominent poll issues and has zeroed in on 162 seats especially where the sitting MPs are either facing criminal or corruption charges or have been deemed corrupt by AAP. They include several union ministers such as P Chidambaram (finance), Shushilkumar Shinde (home), Kapil Sibal (HRD and IT), Praful Patel (heavy industry), Kamal Nath (parliamentary affairs), Farooq Abdullah (renewable energy) and Salman Khursid (external affairs). The party also plans to take on former telecom minister A Raja of the DMK, who stepped down over the 2G spectrum scam.
The decision was taken at AAP’s national executive meeting on Thursday. “Since we want to weed out criminals and the corrupt from politics, we would surely be fighting the elections in these 162 seats,” party spokesperson Sanjay Singh said.
The party will deliberate on other issues to be taken up for the elections in its national council meeting on Friday.
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Meera Sanyal, former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Mayank Gandhi, social activist and member of AAP’s national executive, are the two prominent names on the party’s probable candidate list. They would reportedly contest from south Mumbai and northwest Mumbai, respectively.
While AAP’s national ambitions were no secret, it had so far not disclosed the number of seats it would contest and there was also speculation about whether it had the wherewithal to go big.
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While the party has decided to contest more than 350 seats, it could reconsider its decision on seats for which it does not find suitable candidates. “We won’t field candidates in seats for which the applications we receive don’t pass our scrutiny,” Singh said.
“We have to ensure the candidates we field are honest and have not deserted any other party for the sake of getting elected on an AAP ticket,” he added.