New Delhi, India: The Aam Aadmi Party is set to drop about half of the candidates it fielded in the 2013 assembly elections, including six sitting MLAs, over concerns about their ‘poor performance’ and ability to win this time around, HT has learnt.
Of the 70 party picks in the last election, only 37 may get tickets for the next Delhi polls, likely in early 2015.
Prominent among the six legislators facing the axe are former assembly speaker Maninder Singh Dhir (Jangpura) and Raju Dhingan, the MLA from Trilokpuri, where more than 70 people were recently injured in riots. Dhingan was accused of not doing enough to restore normalcy in the east Delhi neighbourhood. The decision came after a party survey and volunteer feedback suggested that 30-odd candidates were not working hard and avoiding public interaction. “The party cautioned them but there was no improvement. The decision [to drop them] has been conveyed [to them], said a party source.
Senior party leader Ashutosh, however, refused to give a number and said, “Whenever a party goes into elections, there is a process of evaluation. We will also be retaining and dropping some people. Performance will be the main criterion.”
Despite a spectacular electoral debut in 2013 with 28 seats in the 70-member house, AAP pulled the plug on its government in 49 days, saying it didn’t have the numbers to pass important legislations. It then drew a blank in May’s general elections, standing second to the BJP in all seven seats in the Capital.
The novice party now faces the uphill task of fighting the BJP that is banking on brand Modi and has said it will only pick candidates with maximum winnability.
This is in sharp contrast to AAP’s claims that its MLAs and even unsuccessful candidates have been working hard, holding numerous ‘Mohalla Sabhas’ to solve people’s problems.
Two of the MLAs— Harish Khanna (Timarpur) and Rajesh Garg (Rohini) – have said they had themselves decided not to contest due to a lack of internal democracy in the party. The other two MLAs unlikely to make the cut are Veena Anand (Patel Nagar), and Dharmendra Koli (Seemapuri). Koli’s brother Santosh Koli was the original choice for the seat in 2013 but died in an accident.