Former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is likely to be the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from the New Delhi Parliamentary constituency after the Centre accepted Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s suggestion of imposing President’s Rule in the capital by putting the Delhi Assembly under suspended animation. The Union Cabinet on Saturday evening gave its approval to the Lt Governor’s recommendations, which Kejriwal described as “unconstitutional”. Kejriwal was elected from the New Delhi Assembly segment after defeating three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit by more than 26,500 votes in the December 2013 elections. Sources in the AAP said that earlier the party had kept its options open, keeping in view the possibility of the Assembly and Parliament elections being held simultaneously. “If that would have happened then Kejriwal could have been a candidate for either the Assembly or Parliament. But it is now certain that he shall be the AAP nominee from the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat to send a strong message throughout the country on how the two major parties were trying to scuttle his anti corruption crusade,” a close Kejriwal associate said on Saturday night.
Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday also questioned the Lt Governor for suggesting the imposition of President’s Rule in the capital. In a tweet he said that when both the AAP and BJP were in favour of re-election to the Assembly why was the Lt Governor interested in putting the Assembly in suspended animation. He should have dissolved the House on the recommendations of a “majority” government led by him as is the norm. Though AAP had only 27 members, it enjoyed the confidence of the House as its government had proved its majority on the floor of the House. The AAP is expected to make an issue of the Centre imposing President’s Rule in Delhi next week.
Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav declared on Saturday that Kejriwal will be spearheading the party’s Lok Sabha campaign in the country. The AAP will be holding its first anti graft rally in Rohtak on 23 February, followed by a rally in Kanpur on 2 March. Both the rallies will be addressed by the former Delhi Chief Minister. Rohtak is represented by Deependra Hooda, son of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kanpur by Union Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal. Yadav is himself a possible candidate from the Gurgaon Lok Sabha seat. He said that the party was going to make its presence felt nationally by contesting the Parliamentary elections with full sincerity.
A close associate of Kejriwal said that the party had put the ball in the court of the Congress and the BJP, which had come together to stall the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly. “To begin with, we have to therefore wait for the Centre’s response. Why should we react prematurely since we have played our cards on Friday and it is for the others to play theirs?” He said that there was immense pressure on Kejriwal to contest the Lok Sabha elections and he too has indicated that he would abide by his party’s wishes.
He said that Kejriwal had chosen the New Delhi Assembly seat primarily because it was represented by Sheila Dikshit and also was in the heart of the capital. The same logic would apply if he contests the Lok Sabha elections. The obvious constituency would be the New Delhi seat, which has 10 Assembly segments and the AAP showing was extraordinary in these segments.
The New Delhi Parliamentary seat has in the past been represented by top Opposition leaders including Prof Balraj Madhok, Prof Manohar Lal Sondhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Jagmohan. Even for the Congress, top leaders such as Sucheta Kripalani (later Chief Minister of UP), K.C. Pant, cine megastar Rajesh Khanna and now Ajay Maken have been elected from here. Many leading BJP leaders and high profile personalities are amongst likely contestants from here in the 2014 elections. These include Arun Jaitley and Kiran Bedi.
Meanwhile, Manish Sisodia, former Delhi minister, has asked the Congress and the BJP to form a government jointly since people have seen them working together to stall the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly on Friday.