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AAP focus on nuts and bolts

New Delhi, Jan. 5: The Aam Aadmi Party has decided not to declare a candidate for Prime Minister but focus on building the organisation by enrolling members and drawing credible Lok Sabha poll contestants.

The party will leave the space open for Arvind Kejriwal to be “seen” as the tallest leader and fill the national leader vacancy at a later late.

Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister, had declared yesterday that he would not contest the Lok Sabha polls. The announcement had come after differences in the party over projecting him against Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi in the race for Prime Minister.

“It will not be correct to declare a prime ministerial candidate unless we assess where we stand,” AAP ideologue Yogendra Yadav said in reply to a question.

Party leaders said Kejriwal had emerged as the face of the party across the country and he would be the chief campaigner. The party wants to avoid the “personality cult” associated with other parties but is finding it difficult to project a leader who can match the stature of Kejriwal.

Yadav said a massive membership drive across the country would be launched from January 10. The party would use the membership drive as a launchpad for the campaign for the April-May Lok Sabha elections.

“A massive membership drive named Main Bhi Aam Aadmi (I am a common man, too) will be carried out from January 10 to 26. The campaign will ask the people to contribute and spare time for the country”, Yadav said.

The drive is aimed at building party units across the country. The AAP, formed just over a year ago, had so far been focusing on the Delhi Assembly elections.

Party leaders said that now it must have organisations in each and every district of the country before they it could think of capturing power at the Centre. At present, the party has units in 309 of the over 600 districts in the country. They are not enough for the Lok Sabha elections, the leaders said.

Some AAP leaders felt that the present organisational strength would facilitate contests in 100 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats. But the party wants to contest 300 seats in 15 to 20 states.

Yadav said that a good candidate and a reasonable party structure were prerequisites for contesting a Lok Sabha seat.

AAP has invited applications on its website. All the applications received till January 15 will be considered, even though it will continue to receive applications from those seats where candidatures have not been finalised. Yadav said anyone from across the country could apply for candidature for the Lok Sabha seats.

He said that candidates would have to be passed by the screening committee in their respective states and then the final selection would rest with the political affairs committee, a close equivalent of the politburo in the communist parties.

“Good candidates are very essential for a party like the AAP,” Yadav said. The first list of Lok Sabha candidates will be put out between January 15 and 20.

Yadav said that the AAP would contest the maximum number of the Lok Sabha seats possible but hinted that Haryana, neighbouring Delhi, was the main focus.

“We will contest all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana and also contest all the 90 Assembly seats in the state”, said Yadav, who is being seen as the chief ministerial face of the party for Haryana where polls could be advanced from October to coincide with the general election.