New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday declared its intention of contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections by throwing open its primary membership to all citizens for free. A countrywide decentralised membership drive — “main bhi aam aadmi” (I too am a commoner) — will be held from January 10 to 26.
AAP leader Yogendra Yadav made the announcement at the end of a two-day national executive meeting here. He said the party decided to contest all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, and the Assembly and Parliamentary seats in Haryana.
The AAP will also put up candidates in some seats in Tamil Nadu, and most Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Maharashtra.
Convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will spearhead the party’s election campaign. Mr. Kejriwal has decided not to contest the Lok Sabha elections, but will campaign “vigorously” for the party.
3 lakh people join in Maharashtra
Among party leaders tipped to contest elections are: Yogendra Yadav from Haryana, Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania from Maharashtra, and Sanjay Singh and Kumar Vishwas from Uttar Pradesh. In Maharashtra alone, more than 3 lakh people have joined the party, which has opened offices in 34 districts. The party units in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have also indicated their readiness to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
Although the final picture will emerge only by February-end, based on the preparations on the ground so far, the party plans to contest “at least 250 to 300 seats in 15 to 20 States.” “We are testing the waters on how far we can go,” said Mr. Yadav.
He said that declaring a prime ministerial candidate “presupposes” where the party would land in the general election. “Unless we assess where we stand, it is not correct to declare a prime ministerial candidate.”
The first list of candidates will be made public between January 15 and 20. All selected candidates will go through public scrutiny in the run-up to the final selection by the Political Affairs Committee. “After a candidate for a particular constituency is finalised, no more applications for that seat will be considered,” he said. The last date for applying is January 15.
A three-member national election coordination committee will take care of candidates’ selection, preparing the party manifesto, fund-raising and other aspects of the election. The party manifesto will be based on internal reports by 31 panels formed during the Delhi elections.
No membership fee
Executive Committee member Gopal Rai said the party was running out of membership receipt books and, therefore, opened the countrywide membership drive without any fee. The situation would be reviewed after January 26. A membership fee of Rs.10 has been scrapped.
Election panel member Pankaj Gupta said the candidate selection committee in the States would have five members, including a non-AAP member for “objective scrutiny.”
The panel members, however, admitted that the party needed more funds to contest the general election. “We fought the Delhi elections with Rs.20 crore. But more funds will be needed for the Lok Sabha polls.’’
The leaders said they were aware of other parties sending their cadre for “proxy membership”. They issued a “zero tolerance” warning to members against indulging in indiscipline or any anti-social activity that would bring the AAP into disrepute. “Such a member will be disowned.”