The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday set the stage for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by pitching former state education advisor Atishi Marlena as its candidate from the East Delhi constituency. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked residents to vote for the AAP if they want to expedite development.

In his first address targeted at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Kejriwal promised to bring “improvements” to the police force and said he would stop the ongoing sealing drive. The CM, however, did not elaborate on how planned to improve the Delhi Police. The state government has no control over the police as it comes under the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA).

Kejriwal was in Laxmi Nagar to inaugurate the poll office of Marlena, AAP’s east Delhi prabhari (in-charge) for the 2019 general elections. East and northeast Delhi areas are dominated by Purvanchalis who are migrants from Bihar and eastern UP. It is estimated that Purvanchalis now constitute nearly one-third of the city’s over 2 crore population.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who was also present, formally announced Marlena as the party candidate from the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat. “I want to put this on record today that this East Delhi office of AAP is going to be the office of the next MP from east Delhi,” he said.

In his 12-minute speech, Kejriwal claimed that if all seven MPs from Delhi were from the AAP, then they would have stalled Parliament to stop the sealing drive. “Had the current seven BJP MPs sat on dharna against the sealing drive, it would have never started. But, they didn’t do anything because they had orders from the Centre,” he said.

Kejriwal asked the people to compare the work done by the AAP government and that by BJP MPs and then decide who to vote.

He asserted that the AAP would win all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. “I want to ask you who has worked for you — the BJP or AAP? I want to ask you if you (people) remember any work done by the seven BJP MPs? On the other hand, the Delhi government has reduced electricity bills, provided free medicines, set up of mohalla clinics, improved of government schools,” he said.

He claimed that there was “no benefit” of voting for the Congress as it is “finished.” He added that voting for them would mean “helping” the BJP win.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi.

Party functionaries said that Marlena, who also acts as an advisor to Sisodia in the education department, is being seen as AAP’s strongest candidate. AAP has appointed four more ‘prabharis’ and kept two seats open for a possible alliance with the Congress or a regional party.

The other prabharis include Raghav Chadha (South Delhi), Pankaj Gupta (Chandni Chowk), Dilip Pandey (North East Delhi) and Ghuggan Singh (North West Delhi). Even as an official announcement is awaited, senior AAP leaders maintained that like Marlena, the other four also would be declared as the party’s candidates.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 00:48 IST

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