Dropped AAP MLAs say list came as a “surprise”

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New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) After the ruling Aam Aadmi Party released the list of its candidates on Tuesday for the 70 Assembly seats of Delhi and dropped 15 sitting MLAs, the legislators say the list came as a “surprise” and the party did not inform them about this in advance. However, not all are turning rebel.

Haji Ishraq, MLA from Seelampur, who was replaced by Abdul Rehman, MCD winner from East Delhi, accused party chief Arvind Kejriwal of being “unhappy” as he asked him to support the Muslims protesting against the NRC and the CAA.

“About a fortnight ago, I had asked him (Kejriwal) that the Muslims gave you 70 per cent votes and you cannot even go for five minutes to meet those who are protesting against the NRC and the CAA. Maybe he found this unpleasing,” Haji said, adding that first Kejriwal had said that he will see, but later “he refused for the meeting.”

Ishraq won in 2015 with 51.26 per cent votes.

“Even if they were planning to drop us, they could have told us. Also, if they were unsatisfied with my performance, I should have been informed,” he said.

He said that he is considering many options right now and is yet to reach a decision.

“People made me a leader, I was a common man. I owe everything to the people. But the party should have told us that it is planning to drop us. I met Kejriwal last about 15 days ago and that time I was told that I do not have to worry and should focus on campaigning.”

Adarsh Shastri, the grandson of Lal Bahadur Shastri, had won the Dwarka seat with 59.08 per cent votes in 2015. He has been removed this time and Vinay Kumar Mishra, a Congress leader and son of former Congress MP Mahabal Mishra, who joined the AAP on Monday along with numerous leaders has been given the opportunity to contest from the seat.

Sources close to Shastri said he too was told by Kejriwal that he should continue the campaign and should not worry.

“He was told that he will recontest. The list came as a shock. The MLA was not in the loop about the process. Also, the accusation that the party took money for a seat can be considered true,” sources said.

Also, they said, it would have been better to replace him with another party member and not an outsider, if the party considered him incompetent.

Both the MLAs claimed that they transformed their areas and worked hard in the last five years.

Apart from the two, Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who won the 2015 election by getting 51.05 per cent of the total votes has been replaced by the party’s unsuccessful 2019 Lok Sabha candidate Dilip Pandey.

Pushkar too was campaigning for the party until Tuesday evening. He also released his report card on Monday.

However, this came as a shock to him as well. Sources in the party said he is paying for his revolt against the party during his tenure.

Ram Chander, the AAP’s MLA from Bawana, who won in 2015 with 45.39 per cent votes, has been replaced by Jai Bhagwan Upkar, a former BSP councillor who joined the AAP on Monday.

While many MLAs are still deciding how they should react, Mundka MLA Sukhbir Dalal and Ex-serviceman Surinder Singh, Delhi Cantonment, were ready for any new role the party would give them.

However, Surinder Singh had earlier said that he would have to look for a job, soon after the party dropped his name.

AAP Rajya Sabha MP and PAC member Sanjay Singh said the ticket distribution was done based on internal surveys.

“We are in touch with all the MLAs. We are seeing where we can use the sitting MLAs. They will be given other responsibilities. People will be hurt when not given an opportunity. They are not just MLAs, they are our family. We will not let them go. All the accusations are made as the MLAs are hurt,” Singh said.

Mundka MLA Sukhbir Dalal, who won with 57.22 per cent votes in 2015, has been axed by the party. A former Congress member from Mundka assembly constituency, Dharampal Lakra, who joined the AAP in 2014 has been given an opportunity by the party for the 2020 Assembly elections.

Surinder Singh who had won the 2015 election from Delhi Cantonment with 51.82 per cent votes has been replaced by former Air Force Sergeant and advocate Virender Singh Kadian, who has been with the party since the beginning.

Among the other replacements are Avtar Singh, who won the Kalkaji seat with 51.72 per cent votes. He has been replaced by the unsuccessful 2019 Lok Sabha candidate Atishi, who has been involved with the AAP government’s education reforms.

Dalit activist Raj Kumar Anand, who rejoined the Aam Aadmi Party in July 2019 after quitting it during the 2015 Assembly elections, has replaced Hazari Lal Chauhan, sitting MLA from Patel Nagar, who won in 2015 with 59.05 per cent votes.

Another failed Lok Sabha candidate Raghav Chadha has replaced Vijender Garg in the Rajinder Nagar constituency. Garg had won the 2015 election with 54.39 per cent votes.

From Hari Nagar constituency, Rajkumari Dhillon, a former Congress councillor who joined the AAP on Monday, has replaced sitting MLA Jagdeep Singh, who won with 58.42 per cent votes.

From Trilokpuri, sitting MLA Raju Dhingan, who won in 2015 with 58.62 per cent votes, has been replaced by the party’s Rohit Kumar Mehraulia who was elected to the EDMC’s Trilokpuri-East ward in 2017 MCD elections.

The AAP has decided to field another MCD winner from Kalyanpuri ward Kuldeep Kumar (Monu) from the Kondli constituency. MLA Manoj Kumar had won the seat in 2015 with 50.66 per cent votes.

In Gokalpur, Ch. Surendra Kumar, a former BJP leader who joined the AAP in October 2019, has replaced Fateh Singh who bagged 48.71 per cent votes.

A former Congressman Shoaib Iqbal, who is a five-time MLA from Matia Mahal from different parties and had joined the AAP on January 9, will contest from the Assembly constituency.

The AAP’s Asim Ahmed Khan broke Iqbal’s winning streak in 2015 by defeating him as he bagged 59.23 per cent of the votes.

Khan and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal had not been on a happy note with each other during the last five years. Khan was sworn in as a cabinet minister in Kejriwal’s first cabinet after the 2015 elections. He was the minister of Food and Civil Supply, Environment and Forest, Minority Affairs and Election ministries. However, after a few months, Kejriwal sacked Khan on charges of corruption. Later, Khan alleged that he and his family are facing “death threats” from Kejriwal.

From Badarpur Assembly, Ram Singh Netaji, a former Congressman and a two-time MLA from Badarpur who joined the AAP on Monday, has replaced sitting AAP MLA N.D Sharma, who got 59.3 per cent votes in 2015.

The sitting MLA from Badarpur said that he has resigned from the party and accused party chief Kejriwal and senior leader Manish Sisodia of taking Rs 20 crore for giving the election ticket to a ‘land mafia’.

The party is asking money from the MLAs, he said. “The man (Kejriwal) has been asking money from the MLAs. He (Kejriwal) asked me also to give Rs 10 crore to the party,” he said.

Those who were land mafia gave Rs 20 crore, he alleged, adding that being an honest man he does not have so much money.

Delhi is going to polls on February 8 as the tenure of the Assembly is ending next month.



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