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AAP invites missed calls

New Delhi, Jan. 10: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today began a nationwide membership drive with the target of enrolling a crore by Republic Day, its hopes fuelled by over 47,000 signings within three hours of the launch.

Party chief Arvind Kejriwal kicked off the campaign, christened Main bhi aam aadmi (I am also a common man), and declared that the Rs 10 membership fee had been waived to draw the poor.

“Our target is to include one crore members by January 26. The drive will continue after that as well,” the Delhi chief minister said. Hours after he spoke, party leaders claimed 47,500 people had registered in the first three hours.

Kejriwal said there would be no screening and that anybody above 18 could join but added that a scrutiny would be done before assigning party posts. “We will give opportunities and responsibilities to new members if they deserve.”

Apart from the traditional mode of filling enrolment forms, people can register by calling an AAP number, 07798220033, or sending an SMS. The Internet option is also open.

Those who cannot afford calls or text messages can make a missed call on the number, after which AAP representatives will call back and collect details.

The Kejriwal-led Delhi government also announced a new simple four-digit number, 1031, for its anti-corruption helpline unveiled earlier this week. The original number was 011-27357169.

Gopal Rai, the AAP leader in charge of the membership drive, said: “It is part of our strategy for the Lok Sabha polls and its success will enable us to decide how many seats we can contest.”

The preparations for the general election came on a day Kiran Bedi, a former comrade of Kejriwal, rooted for Narendra Modi. “As an independent voter, my vote is for NaMo,” Bedi tweeted.

‘Turncoat’ signal

Shoaib Iqbal, the lone JD(U) MLA in Delhi who has won the past five polls under a different party each time, today indicated he could move to the AAP and claimed he met Kejriwal this afternoon.

“There is a yearning for change and none of the big parties have managed to bring it. Also, at this point it is essential that all secular forces unite.”

Asked why he could not achieve his goals while remaining in the JD(U), Iqbal said: “The JD(U) does not have mass base in the capital and at a time when the AAP is gathering strength I felt I should support them.”