Kejriwal at a news conference in Delhi on Thursday. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, Jan. 30: The Aam Aadmi Party today said it would field nominees against all “criminal and corrupt” politicians in the upcoming national elections to send a strong message that politics needed to be cleaned up.
The assertion came on a day a Congress MLA described chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as “jhootistan radio ka director” (chief of a radio channel purveying falsehood) as the AAP government waded into a controversy by refusing a special investigation into the Batla House encounter.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said the party would focus on “criminalisation of politics” and “corruption” as the rookie outfit’s national executive began a two-day meeting to finalise the issues it would raise in the Lok Sabha elections and the number of seats it would contest.
“Criminalisation of politics and corruption would be key issues for us. We will put up clean candidates against all the criminal and corrupt politicians and send out a strong message among the people to clean politics,” Singh said.
He said the AAP would field candidates against all UPA ministers who face corruption charges and 73 MPs accused of involvement in “heinous crimes”.
Asked how many Lok Sabha seats the AAP planned to contest, Singh said no decision had been taken yet but the number might cross 350, provided the party got credible candidates. “Credibility of the candidate is more important for us than the number of seats. We want to ensure that the candidate meets our standard.”
The party has so far received more than 5,000 applications for tickets from over 250 constituencies.
Singh said the party was taking time to finalise the number of seats because it didn’t want to leave any scope for controversy after the names are announced.
Party insiders said senior leaders were also in touch with high-profile names from various fields. “We are in touch with bureaucrats, people from cultural backgrounds as well as activists,” said an AAP leader.
Uttar Pradesh has emerged as a major focus for the party, which is looking for credible candidates to contest all the 80 seats in the state. Prominent AAP leaders like Shazia Ilmi, who lost the Assembly election in Delhi by a narrow margin, had been asked to contest from the heartland state, sources said.
The sources said the two-day meeting could also discuss whether Kejriwal would contest the Lok Sabha election. The chief minister has said he would contest “if needed” but several leaders feel the party should wait for some more time before announcing his name.
Congress MLA Asif Mohammed Khan, however, showed no such circumspection as he disrupted a media conference Kejriwal had called to list his government’s achievements in the one month since it assumed power.
“Kejriwal jhootistan radio ka director hai,” Khan yelled as he walked in, minutes after the chief minister had refused to order a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the September 2008 encounter that killed a police inspector and two militants.
“There is a court judgment in this case and we respect the judgment,” Kejriwal had said while answering questions from a reporter. The chief minister had been asked whether an SIT would be formed to probe the encounter on the lines of the one that his government has decided to set up for investigating the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The court judgment has upheld the veracity of the encounter.
“They had promised it in their manifesto to have a thorough probe into the Batla House encounter. They had even distributed pamphlets with Arvind Kejriwal’s signatures saying the same thing. Now they are turning their back on it,” Khan, who represents Okhla where Batla House is located, said.
Earlier, speaking to reporters, Kejriwal had justified his move to set up an SIT to probe the Sikh riots, saying many of the several hundred first information reports had not been properly investigated.