New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has recently swept the Punjab assembly elections, on Monday picked former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh, its young firebrand leader Raghav Chadha, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) professor Sandeep Pathak, educationist Ashok Kumar Mittal and industrialist Sanjeev Arora as the Rajya Sabha nominees from the state.
The elections to five Rajya Sabha seats, which will fall vacant on Apr 9, will be held on Mar 31.
Singh, a spin bowling legend, had met then Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu before the state elections, fueling speculations of him joining the grand old party, which suffered a crushing defeat in the hands of the AAP.
However, Singh did not join the Congress.
Chadha, an AAP MLA in Delhi assembly, drove the AAP’s campaign in Punjab, which has got its new Chief Minister in the form of Bhagwant Mann.
While Pathak, a Physics Professor, is believed to be close to Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and Mann, Mittal is the founder of Lovely Professional University.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party will contest in the 2023 panchayat elections in West Bengal. This announcement comes from AAP’s state in-charge Sanjoy Basu post his party’s landslide win in Punjab.
The AAP, which is now the fourth Indian party after the Congress, BJP, CPI-M to rule more than a state (though Delhi is a union territory), has already rebooted its mass outreach campaigns in West Bengal. Quite similar to how the BJP had started bolstering its campaign a few years ago, the AAP has provided a phone number, a miss call to which will earn one the party’s membership.
Not perturbed by the AAP arrival, West Bengal minister and TMC veteran, Firhad Hakim, said, “Earlier BJP had tried to capture power here with a different culture. Now AAP has won in Punjab and it wants to keep its footprint here. They are welcome but I don’t think it will matter much.”
Though the BJP has emerged as the only legitimate Opposition in the assembly with its 77 seats, the saffron camp has already lost a number of key party leaders to the TMC besides getting its vote shares lower than the CPI-M, which ruled the state for 34 years until Banerjee voted them out in 2011, in the recent byelections and civic polls.
Reacting to AAP’s emergence, which could further split the Opposition votes in favour of the TMC, West Bengal BJP chief spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya says, “AAP had disappeared after suddenly emerging in the state politics a few years ago. Now they are again becoming active… BJP is always in favour of multi ideologies which strengthen democracy.”
India Blooms News Service