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Kejriwal readies for his first political test

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder and the party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to contest his maiden Assembly election in Delhi against Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is a brave and clever move. Atul Mathur reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2013 23:49 IST
Atul Mathur
Atul Mathur
Hindustan Times
AAP,Sheila Dikshit,Delhi Assembly elections

Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday set the ball rolling for a direct electoral fight with Sheila Dikshit in the coming Delhi Assembly elections here choosing to contest from the constituency where the Delhi chief minister will file her nomination from.

At a convention of Aam Aadmi Party workers to decide from where he will contest in the November elections, Kejriwal also chose to attack the BJP, saying the party fielded weak candidates against Dikshit in the previous polls and challenged Vijay Goel to contest against him and Dikshit.

He said he wished to contest from the New Delhi constituency and take on Dikshit directly in the electoral contest.

"If she decides to avoid such a contest in the New Delhi constituency out of fear and move to another, I will also move to the seat from where she is contesting," he said after the workers suggested that he fight against the chief minister.

However, the final ratification of Kejriwal's candidature will come after a process, which includes collecting 100 signatures from people in constituency and interviews with the screening committee and political affairs committee of AAP.

In 1998, Dikshit defeated BJP candidate Kirti Azad in Gole Market seat by a margin of 5,667 votes after garnering 24,881 votes and five years later, she defeated Poonam Azad by 12,935 votes after polling 25,156.

After delimitation exercise, the Gole Market seat became defunct and she moved to the New Delhi seat which has most localities in the previous seat. Dikshit has won from the seat defeating BJP's Vijay Jolly by 13,982 votes after polling 39,778 votes.

"Why have we chosen to take on Dikshit? Delhi wants to get rid of Dikshit because she has become the symbol of corruption," Kejriwal alleged.

Kejriwal said people no more see the BJP as a party which can defeat the Congress.

Alleging that the BJP was playing an "already fixed" match with Congress in Delhi, he said, "People have realised that BJP deliberately fields weak candidates against the chief minister. This time, there are is a fight among its leaders on who will be their chief ministerial candidate."

"Only AAP can defeat Congress in Delhi in the coming assembly elections. BJP and Congress have indulged in match fixing in the last 15 years. BJP is hand in glove with Dikshit. Hence, only AAP can defeat Congress in Delhi," he claimed.

Asked by some party workers as to why Kejriwal was not contesting against Goel, party leader Kumar Vishwas sarcastically said, "Bofors are not used to kill mosquitoes."

"Since the BJP has lost assembly elections held in the past 15 years, its name is already out of the political scenario of Delhi. BJP is out of Delhi's political scene. And AAP is the new entrant," said Vishwas.

Lawyer and AAP leader Prashant Bhushan also supported the decision of Kejriwal contesting against Dikshit, saying that the leader, who has become the "symbol" of current political system should be taken head-on in her own constituency.

"If we want to change the political system of the country, we will field Kejriwal opposite the personality, who is symbol of this political system," said Bhushan.

First Published: Jun 02, 2013 13:19 IST