TT Epaper
The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

AAP leader springs Amethi dare at Rahul

New Delhi, Dec. 30: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is gearing up to take on Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha poll, its appetite whetted by the stunning Delhi poll debut and government formation.

AAP leader Kumar Vishwas dared Rahul today by saying he would contest from Amethi or whichever constituency the Congress vice-president chose.

“I will contest against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, and if he shifts his constituency as is being said, I will also move to challenge the dynastic leader,” Vishwas said.

The aim to challenge bigwigs is seen as AAP’s strategy to create a bigger buzz in the run-up to the polls and catch voters’ imagination across the country. Vishwas did not contest the Delhi elections but now hopes to become an MP riding on AAP’s popularity.

Party leaders said they could adopt a similar strategy on Narendra Modi — Vishwas challenged the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate to choose Amethi too.

Against Rahul, Vishwas appeared to be taking a cue from AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, who humbled three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

The success of Kejriwal, who trounced Sheila by a decisive margin in the New Delhi Assembly seat, seems to have emboldened Vishwas.

Vishwas, a poet, was a familiar face during Anna Hazare’s 2011 Lokpal agitation, seen along with Kejriwal on the Gandhian’s fast stage at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan where he took to the microphone often to regale the crowd.

Today, he chanted people’s frustration with “dynastic leaders”. “I am going to Amethi because the people there are fed up with dynastic leaders. They want aam aadmi leaders.”

The declaration echoed Modi’s refrain against family-centred politics but Vishwas suggested the BJP leader should do more than hurl shehzaade (prince) jibes. “Narendra Modi repeatedly attacks dynastic politics and calls Rahul Gandhi shehzaade (prince). So he (Modi) too should contest from Amethi. Let the three of us contest and see whom the people choose.”

Vishwas isn’t the only prominent AAP figure keen to become an MP.

The buzz inside the party is that Yogendra Yadav, a key leader and party ideologue, is likely to contest from Gurgaon, neighbouring Delhi. AAP sources said party legal eagle Prashant Bhushan could pick Noida or Allahabad, the political nerve-centre of Uttar Pradesh.

AAP is also is also hunting for “credible names” across the country who could be fielded in the elections next summer.

Bhushan is learnt to have invited S.P. Udayakumar, who has been leading protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant, to join the AAP and contest from Tamil Nadu.

AAP leaders have also been raving about the response to membership drives. “Was in Bengaluru... Amazing response, unbelievable energy, something is happening across the country. Need to tap this energy,” Yadav tweeted after a recent visit to the IT hub.