While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is steering steadily towards the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, its membership department has been propelling on full speed, since Arvind Kejriwal made a spectacular debut in the Delhi Assembly polls last year.
"Since 23 December, AAP website started inviting applicants for the party in the general elections and the last day of submitting the forms is 10 January. The first list of candidates for the national elections will be out by 20 January while the full list will be released by February 15," AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said after the party's executive meeting in Delhi.
Within 15 days, more than 2 lakh people joined the AAP online. Earlier, the party had asked people to submit their membership forms for an enrollment fee of Rs 10, which has now been dropped for its 'national membership drive' from 10 January to 26.
Joined AAP Officially!! @aappune It was pleasure meeting with all AAPins (PCMC meeting). Support from youth was unbelievable..
— Mahesh Badgire (@mahesh_badgire) December 20, 2013
As per a TOI report, over 5,000 people joined AAP's Gurgaon cadre in its fight against corruption. In Narendra Modi's home turf of Gujarat, at least 7,000 people joined the common man's party. After Delhi, the party is set to transform the alliance culture of Maharashtra, where partnerships between BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP have had strongholds.
Thousands of people (buddhijivi) have joined AAP all across Maharashtra. On my way back to Mumbai with a huge sense of satisfaction. — Anjali Damania (@anjali_damania) December 24, 2013
Due to the strong support base in the state, AAP has formed structured committees in all of its 35 districts. AAP is attracting people from all walks of life in Maharashtra - from doctors and IT professionals to auto rickshaw drivers. This month itself, more than 50 under-graduate and graduate students joined the party, through a two-step selection - group discussion and personal interview.
Interestingly, the Kejriwal-led AAP charmed many corporate heads to exchange their business attire with the 'Aam Aadmi' caps, including Infosys Director V Balakrishnan who joined the party this week. Also former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Meera Sanyal, founder of Air Deccan Captain GR Gopinath and singer Remo Fernandez joined AAP.
Of what might seem an easy way to become a politician for the year-old party, AAP has some stringent and innovative rules for its Lok Sabha applicants who want to contest in the general elections. AAP leader Shazia Ilmi had said on Saturday that the party will field only credible candidates, irrespective of the number of Lok Sabha seats AAP contests from.
Like the Delhi Assembly elections, AAP has asked every Parliament aspirant to collect 100 signatures from each assembly segment of a Lok Sabha seat. For instance, if a constituency has four assembly seats, the candidates will have to get signatures from 400 people to prove that they have adequate support in their respective constituencies.
In the 12-page nomination form, Lok Sabha aspirants will have to chalk down details of their family members, criminal record, sources of income, educational details, political connection or affiliation to any organizations.
Moreover, the party has also formed a three-member (likely to increase in number) National Campaign Coordination Committee to deal with AAP's manifesto, secretariat issues, fund raising, screening of candidates for 2014 general elections, Yadav said.
Party leaders Sanjay Singh, Pankaj Gupta and Yadav himself are the members of this election committee.
Sanjay is in-charge of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, while Yadav will take care of campaigning in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, sources told Indian Express.
AAP also announced that it will contest all 90 assembly seats in the Haryana elections, due later this year.