Defections, rebellions and sulking leaders of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party might not give Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia or the current dispensation of the party sleepless nights, but the moot question is will it even cause a dent in the party fortunes come February 11.
The AAP has dropped as many as 15 outgoing MLAs from its candidates’ list for the upcoming Delhi assembly elections.
A prominent sitting MLA who was ousted from the list is former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s grandson Adarsh Shastri. He had represented Dwarka in the previous assembly elections. Shastri has been replaced by Vinay Mishra, who joined the party days before he was given the ticket. Mishra is the son of Congress leader and former Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra.
Badarpur MLA N D Sharma has been replaced with Ram Singh Netaji, while Delhi Cantonment MLA Surender Singh, a former NSG commando who served the Army for 14 years and retired after he lost his hearing during the operation at the Taj Palace Hotel during 26/11 attacks has been replaced with former defence man Virender Singh Kadian.
The party has nominated councillor Abdul Rehman as its candidate from Seelampur. He is accused of inciting violence during anti-CAA protests in Uttar Pradesh.
Former Congress leader and five-term MLA Shoaib Iqbal, who has many criminal cases against him, was nominated by the ruling party to contest from Matia Mahal, his stronghold.
In Chandni Chowk, AAP has fielded former Congress leader and four-time MLA Prahlad Sawhney. The sitting MLA from the constituency, Alka Lamba is the Congress candidate.
Durgesh Pathak is the APP candidate from Karawal Nagar, which was represented by former AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who is now with the BJP.
Sitting AAP MLA Devender Shekhawat from Bijwasan joined the BJP, so in his place the party has fielded lawyer B.S. Joon.
In Gandhi Nagar, AAP has given the ticket to social activist Naveen Choudhary, who was considered close to the Congress party.
Kondli MLA Manoj Kumar, who was convicted last year for assaulting a woman, was replaced with Kuldeep Kumar.
Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar, considered close to Prashant Bhushan, has made way for Dilip Pandey, a key confidante of Kejriwal.
Considered to be in a formidable position, AAP is playing the game safely. Pundits had expected some changes in the list of candidates for the assembly election, however, the move to drop 15 MLAs was unexpected. Arvind Kejriwal is still hopeful that the 15 ex-legislators would stay back in the AAP family.
Delhi goes to polls on February 8, 2020.