New Delhi, Feb. 6: Parveen Amanullah, who quit Nitish Kumar’s ministry two days ago, joined the Aam Aadmi Party today and said she could contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bihar.
“I can stand for the election if that is the decision of the party,” the former Bihar social welfare minister said to a reporter’s question, adding that she was ready to shoulder any responsibility the party gave her.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said Amanullah’s “clean image” would strengthen the party and she would lead the campaign in Bihar. He added that whether she would contest the Lok Sabha elections would be her own decision.
The buzz in AAP circles is that Amanullah might contest from Bihar’s Kishanganj constituency, represented from 1991 to 1996 by her father Syed Shahabuddin, a Babri Masjid crusader and former foreign service officer, on a Janata Dal ticket.
Amanullah said she had called AAP leaders and sought to join the party. She explained that she had been impressed by the party’s concept of “swaraj” (self-rule), which looks to devolve power and ensure people’s participation in governance.
“I have always believed in the concept of swaraj. As (social welfare) minister, I had implemented the concept,” she said.
Asked whether Nitish shared that belief, she said: “No, no, he does not believe in the people’s participation.”
Amanullah endorsed the allegation that Nitish was an “autocrat”, saying all power was concentrated in the chief minister’s hands in Bihar.
She acknowledged that Nitish had brought some changes to Bihar but said it was not “enough”, and that the system continued to operate in the traditional way with little concession to transparency.
“Schools, hospitals, anganwaadi centres, the PDS system are not functioning properly. There is just normal governance; there is no transparency,” she said.
Janata Dal (United) sources denied the allegations and claimed that Amanullah had left the party and its government because she hadn’t been given a Rajya Sabha nomination.
They alleged that Amanullah wanted an upper House berth either for herself or husband Afzal Amanullah, a Bihar-cadre IAS officer now on central deputation in Delhi.
“She was angry after Nitish Kumar selected Kehkasha Parveen, a backward Muslim woman from Bhagalpur,” said a Janata Dal (United) leader.
“If she were so moved by the politics of the Aam Aadmi Party, why did she not join it earlier? She joined it only after the Rajya Sabha candidates were announced.”
A social activist from Bihar, Suman Lal, joined the AAP along with Amanullah.