Ahmedabad: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday declared its first list of candidates for eleven Assembly constituencies in Gujarat including Rajkot (West), while stating that it would not contest from the seats where it is weak.
Rajkot (West) is currently represented by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. AAP is going to field businessman Rajesh Bhut from the seat.
Delhi minister and AAP's Gujarat election in-charge Gopal Rai told reporters here that the names were finalised at a meeting of the party's political affairs committee in Delhi on Friday.
There are a total of 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat. The election schedule is yet to be announced.
The constituency-wise candidates announced by the AAP today are: Anil Verma (Bapunagar), Ramesh Patel (Unjha), Rajesh Bhut (Rajkot (West)), J J Mewada (Danilimda), Nimeesha Khunt (Gondal), M D Manajaria (Lathi), Arjun Rathwa (Chhota Udepur), Rajendra Patel (Padra), Hanif Jamadar (Karjan), Rajiv Pandey (Pardi) and Ram Dhaduk (Kamrej).
Of these, nine constituencies are currently represented by BJP MLAs, while Danilimda in Ahmedabad and Chhota Udepur are with the Congress.
"We will be fighting these elections with a pledge to rid Gujarat of BJP. We had earlier said we will fight against the BJP on select seats. We want to give a direct fight to the ruling party, and we will not contest from any seat where we are weak and where there is possibility of division of votes which may help the BJP," Rai said.
Among AAP's candidates, Manajaria is a retired deputy collector and Mewada is a retired deputy superintendent of police. Verma is an educationist while Rathwa, Patel and Khunt are social activists.
Rai said the party will contest from only those seats which fulfil the criteria decided by its high command. Candidates for more seats would be declared in coming days.
He asserted that AAP's contest is against the BJP and it will not end up helping the ruling party by eating into Congress' votes.
"Congress appears to be more scared of the AAP than the BJP as some of its leaders say that the AAP is here to help the BJP. To form the government in Gujarat, a party needs to win 92 seats. AAP has fielded candidates on 11 seats. We have not touched other 171 seats yet. If Congress give us guarantee and publicly pledges that it will defeat the BJP on all these remaining seats, we will limit ourselves to 11 seats," he said.
Rajkot (West) constituency was chosen particularly as the AAP wanted to give fight to the BJP in its "fortress", he said.
Narendra Modi had contested from this seat when he became chief minister for the first time, and so did Rupani after he became chief minister replacing Anandiben Patel.
"A few days ago, some businessmen and traders, who are predominant in this constituency, met us and said they have been badly hit by the GST. Rajesh Bhut is a businessman and will contest against Rupani. On October 29, we will hold `Chunauti Sabha (Challenge Rally)' there," the AAP leader said.