The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today revealed an unusual solution to a raging war within over a Chief Minister candidate in Punjab. The party has asked voters to dial 7074870748 to name their choice.
The phone line is jammed already, claimed AAP in a tweet.
The phone line is jam packed already 💯
— AAP Punjab (@AAPPunjab) January 13, 2022
AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he would name his party’s Punjab face on January 17 based on tele-voting by the people.
“This is the first time a party is letting the public choose their own Chief Minister,” he said.
“The people of Punjab can call, WhatsApp or SMS on 7074870748 and name their choice. The phone number will be open till 5 PM on Jan 17. We will go through the responses and based on the feedback, AAP will select its Chief Minister candidate,” Mr Kejriwal told reporters.
The party also launched a poster announcing the “vote”. “Janta chunegi apna CM (People will choose their Chief Minister). Call 7074870748,” it says.
The move is hugely disappointing for Bhagwant Mann, the AAP MP who has nursed his chief ministerial ambitions for long and has been waiting for the party to name him as their face for the Punjab election on February 14.
Mr Kejriwal tackled questions on Mr Mann.
“Bhagwant Mann is very dear to me. He is my chhota bhai (younger brother). He is the biggest leader of AAP. I was also saying he should be the Chief Minister candidate. But then he said no…the people must decide,” said the Delhi Chief Minister.
Asked whether he was also among the options before voters, Mr Kejriwal said: “I am not in the race.”
AAP has emerged as a strong challenger to Punjab’s ruling Congress in the coming elections. The BJP-Amarinder Singh tie-up and the Akali Dal-led alliance complete the four-way contest.
But the party has, so far, been guarded about committing to a chief ministerial face.
The name of farm union leader turned politician Balbir Singh Rajewal has also been floating around as a possible candidate.
In the 2017 Assembly election, the Congress party won the polls, securing 77 seats of the 117 total constituencies. AAP had emerged runner-up, winning 20 seats. Akali Dal had won 15 seats and its alliance partner BJP in 3 seats.