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Swaraj India announces 55 candidates for Delhi civic polls; includes 21-year-old girl, social worker in list

Swaraj India, under former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Yogendra Yadav, will face its first electoral test in the upcoming Delhi municipal elections. It has also designed a campaign strategy focusing on quality over winnability, and hopes to bring about politics of change.

Announcing its second list of candidates to contest the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls, the party focussed on youth power and women power to bring about fresh energy to politics, also saying age and winnability weren't the sole criteria, rather the ability to bring about change was.

Swaraj India's Yogendra Yadav. PTI file image

Swaraj India's Yogendra Yadav. PTI file image

As per the latest list, the average age of 55 candidates for the MCD polls is 39 years, while 19 candidates are below 35-years-old.

"Swaraj India strongly believes in practicing alternative politics and encouraging the new generation. Youth of the country can bring about a change by challenging the status quo. We're looking for candidates with the never-say-die attitude, optimism and killer instinct, those who have the will to perform their duties with due honesty. We think youngsters and women have more fighting spirit within them," said Anupam, chief national spokesperson, Swaraj India.

The party, which was born out of a socio-political movement 'Swaraj Abhiyaan', a splinter group of the Aam Aadmi Party, has given tickets to 23 women in the first round, even those as young as 21-years-old!

The party has decided to contest all 272 seats in Delhi, and will soon declare candidates for subsequent rounds. As of now, of the 55 candidates declared by the party, 24 are from the North Municipal Corporation, 23 from the South Municipal Corporation and eight from East Municipal Corporation.

Swaraj India claimed that the party has preferred young and fresh candidates over those with seasoned political experience in other parties, like Congress and BJP, and has also overlooked ex-corporators.

"The party wants to set a precedent in Delhi civic polls, by giving maximum tickets to youth and women who have not dabbled in politics before, but will work hard and have the will to bring change. And the principle we're advocating will reflect on candidates' campaigning. Many of the candidates selected used to be social workers in their respective wards; some of them are associated with constructive programmes and community service. In the civic body polls, influence of a candidate and his/her work at local level matters a lot, especially compared to Assembly segments," said Swaraj India's national general secretary, Ajit Jha.

On the one hand, there are candidates who haven't completed school education, while there are also those who have a strong academic background. The list comprises candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds — from social activists to academicians, from artists to a everyday people, new entrants to politics. However, a large number of them have been associated with the Jan Lokpal movement.

Among others, the party has given a ticket to Dilip Bhat, an activist who has been fighting for the residents of Kathputli Colony for the last three decades, to contest from Rajinder Nagar ward; 21-year old Kajal Sharma from Rani Bag, who has been associated with the Jan Lokpal movement; theatre and TV artiste Shubha Sharma from Mayur Vihar Phase 2; Gurvinder Gupta, principal of a private school and a citizen associated with community teaching; Sonam, an MPhil from LSR College, who has been teaching slum children — from Model Town, etc.

"It has been tough to take a call on candidature, but the party emphasised on a strong screening process followed by clearance from an independent integrity committee. Strong emphasis has also been given to candidates' clean track records, while complaints of corruption, communalism and bad character are frowned upon. To encourage more women to participate, four women have even been fielded from unreserved seats. Swaraj India has fielded women who are leaders in their own right, have the capability to represent themselves rather than being a leader's wife. These candidates are women who have independently worked in their respective areas," Anupam added.

Emphasising strongly on transparency, Swaraj India has devised a three-tier selection process, starting with a screening committee, followed by an independent 'Integrity Committee' headed by social activist Anjali Bhardwaj, who isn't a member of the party.

"The concept of an 'Integrity Committee' is first-of-its-kind. Even after a ticket is given to a candidate, if the committee rejects or questions his/her candidature, we'll cancel the ticket. We've several examples like K Kamraj, Karpuri Thakur, etc who rose to become political stalwarts from a humble background. So, we too haven't stressed on political background as a prerequisite, instead selecting people from humble backgrounds," Jha added.

Updated Date: Feb 28, 2017 14:45 PM

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