Arvind Kejriwal gestures during a janata durbar at the AAP office in Kaushambi in Ghaziabad on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Dec. 26: If you ever nursed a wish to be a Lok Sabha candidate, here’s your chance to make an “honest” attempt.
You don’t need to curry favour with party bosses or prove your money power and “winnability”. Just sending an email might do. Provided you can prove you are “honest” and are over 25.
The Aam Aadmi Party today invited applications from “honest” people through email or letters — the addresses are given on the party website — to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
“The Aam Aadmi Party has announced its decision to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It is now asking all honest people to join the AAP and contest the elections,” a party release said.
Party leader and chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal too issued an appeal, asking “honest” bureaucrats to become his advisers and help him “run Delhi”. He asked them to contact him through text messages, email and letters.
“We would give such (honest) officers good positions in our government and take their help in drawing up strategies,” Kejriwal said.
Asked how he would spot an “honest” bureaucrat, he said the party had formed a team to process and pick the right candidates.
Kejriwal has been hunting for bureaucrats to help him fulfil the challenging promises he has made to Delhi residents, such as halving their electricity bills and supplying 700 litres of free water daily to every household.
Party insiders explained the urgency to find “honest” bureaucrats: there may just be a two-month window, since the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections could kick in by February-end.
Two have been spotted so far. Rajendra Kumar, a 1989-batch IAS officer and former IITian like Kejriwal, could be assigned to help fulfil the cheap electricity promise. Kumar is now higher education secretary in the Delhi government.
As principal secretary to the power department three years ago, Kumar had ordered an audit of the private power distribution companies but a court had stayed the move.
Kumar is learnt to have met Kejriwal recently and could be appointed principal secretary to the chief minister, party sources said.
S.C. Behar, a former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary, has been invited to become Kejriwal’s adviser and help draft the “mohalla sabhas” (local committees) legislation, the AAP’s concept of “swaraj” (self-rule).
Behar had unsuccessfully attempted a similar power devolution experiment in Madhya Pradesh when Digvijaya Singh was the state’s chief minister between 1993 and 2003. Behar is said to have been a Digvijaya favourite.
Kejriwal has also promised help to officials who have allegedly been punished for their honesty.
“I also appeal to those honest officers who have been suspended and whose pensions and medical and other dues have not been cleared so far,” he said, urging them to contact him through text messages, email or letters.
Kejriwal also questioned the timing of the Rs 4.50-a-kg hike in CNG prices in Delhi, the second in three months, announced by the Centre today, a PTI report said.
“CNG rates hiked in Delhi. Isn’t the time suspect?” Kejriwal tweeted. All buses and autos in Delhi run on CNG.
AAP ideologue Yogendra Yadav said the party had not decided how many parliamentary seats it would contest next year but was seeking applications from people across India who were interested in contesting.
“A two-member committee has been formed to look into the preparations for the Lok Sabha elections,” Yadav said.
He said the AAP’s rise had made the BJP nervous that it might puncture the so-called “Modi wave”.
Some party insiders, however, fear the AAP might not be able to meet expectations in the Lok Sabha polls as Kejriwal would be too caught up with administering Delhi to be able to campaign extensively.
Still, some ambitious AAP leaders have begun the groundwork for taking on heavyweights such as Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi.
The party has urged its local cadres in Amethi, Rahul’s constituency, to conduct a “jhaadu chalao, neta bhagao (wield the broom and sweep out the leader)” campaign.
Alka Lamba, a Congress leader from Delhi and former president of party student wing NSUI, today said she wanted to join the AAP.
“I met Yogendra Yadav recently and expressed willingness to give support to the AAP,” she said, lauding the party for its “total transparency” and castigating the Congress for “taking decisions behind closed doors”.
Yadav confirmed he had met Lamba along with leaders from other parties who had approached the AAP but declined comment about her possible induction.
Party sources said she could join as a primary member — any decision on giving her a post would come later.
Lamba was removed from the National Commission for Women recently after she revealed the name of a molestation complainant.