The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today said it will contest the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, but will field candidates only on seats that meet certain criteria set by its central leadership.
The party's Gujarat election in-charge and Delhi minister, Gopal Rai, told reporters that the decision to contest the elections was taken at a meeting held yesterday between the AAP's state and central office-bearers.
To formally launch the campaign, the party will hold a road show in Ahmedabad on September 17, Rai said.
"The AAP has decided, after a long discussion, that it will contest the Gujarat assembly elections. We have framed three criteria and will contest on those seats which meet our criteria," Rai said.
He said the party will contest seats where it can find "competent candidates" who have no charges of corruption or criminal cases, and have upright character.
Elections to the 182-member Assembly in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are likely to be held by the year-end.
The assembly seats selected by the party should have in-charge in each booth. Also, the party members will have to raise money to fund their campaign and spend it as per the norms set by the Election Commission, the minister said.
"Fund raised in a particular seat will be spent on campaigning in that constituency only," Rai said.
"We will focus our energies on only those seats which we can win. For that, we have formed a state-level committee which will oversee election management works," he said, adding it is possible the party may end up fielding candidates on all the 182 seats.
The setback in civic polls in Delhi, where it lost to the BJP, had left a shadow on the AAP's plans to contest elections in Gujarat.
Though the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit had emerged as the principal opposition in Punjab in the recently held assembly elections, the result had left the party disappointed as its leaders had been hopeful of wresting power in the state after the AAP's 2015 victory in Delhi. However, it appears that the party has had a rethink after the recent win in Bawana bypoll.
Rai said the party has also appointed a team to oversee election preparedness, he said, adding AAP member Kishor Desai has been appointed its convener.
He said the party wants to provide an alternative to the people of Gujarat who are "tired" of the over two-decade-long rule of the BJP and feel the Congress is not a strong opposition party.
"We want to reach out to the people of Gujarat who understand that the BJP government has not been able to tackle their basic problems."
He said the AAP government in Delhi has created a model to help the common man through a host of initiatives in fields like education and health. The fledgling outfit wants to place this model before the Gujarat voters, Rai added.