AAP Nominates Two Newcomers for Rajya Sabha Seats

Several have questioned the candidature of Sushil Gupta and Narayan Das Gupta over senior party leaders for the coveted posts.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Credit: Reuters/Vijay Mathur/Files

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Credit: Reuters/Vijay Mathur/Files

New Delhi: Putting to rest the speculation surrounding its candidates for the three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party today announced the names of businessman educationist Sushil Gupta, chartered accountant Narayan Das Gupta and senior leader and political affairs committee (PAC) and national executive member Sanjay Singh for the post.

The elections to the three seats – which the party is sure to win due to an overwhelming majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly – will be held on January 16.

With the announcement by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia after a meeting of the party’s PAC, the AAP effectively put to rest all speculation which was doing the rounds about the candidature of two of its senior leader, Kumar Vishwas and Ashutosh.

Among the three candidates, only Singh is known within the party. The party also tweeted his credentials soon after the decision was taken.

The other two faces, whose names were released through unofficial channels yesterday, are both new to the party.

As for Sushil, the party described him as an “educationist, agriculturist and social worker”.

However, in Delhi’s social circles, he is better known as a prominent businessman who has been the chairman of Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh Club for the last 25 years. Politically, Sushil is known more as a Congress face since he began his political career as an activist of National Students’ Union of India and had also contested the 2013 Delhi assembly election from Moti Nagar as a party candidate.

Sushil had moved to AAP only three months ago and his elevation within the ranks and selection for the Rajya Sabha seat has obviously irked a few.

Social activist Mayank Gandhi, who was earlier a member of the core committee in the India Against Corruption movement and a national executive member of AAP, tweeted that somewhere there was an apparent “mismatch” between Sushil’s selection and what AAP and its leaders stood for.

Similarly, Anjali Damania, who was the convener of the Maharashtra state unit of AAP and had fought the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Nagpur as a party candidate before quitting the party in 2015, questioned why AAP was not considering senior, well-known and reputed leaders like Ashish Khetan, Ashutosh, Meera Sanyal and Kumar Vishwas for the Rajya Sabha seats.

She also questioned what the two new faces knew about AAP’s ideology.

Narayan Das is a leading chartered accountant who is known for writing extensively in various international publications. He has also written books on accountancy and business, including work on the Goods and Service Tax.

The selection of the two new faces has come after an exercise which saw the party first shortlisting 18 names. However, many of them, including former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, had turned down the offer.

The sidelining of key party leaders for the seats to the Rajya Sabha had left several old hands upset. While some decided to maintain silence, others like Vishwas were more vocal. The poet-turned-politician released a 13-minute video titled ‘We the Nation, Bold and Straight-Forward’ to show how he felt about the issue.

In the past too, a video featuring Vishwas had been circulated in April 2017 in which he posed an open challenge to party leader and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying: “If in Delhi you form a government on the anti-corruption plank with the promise of freedom from corruption and fall silent and try to protect your own people when they come under the scanner, you will be questioned by people.”

Vishwas, who was subsequently banished from Delhi politics and sent to Rajasthan to lead the party’s campaign, had made a last-minute push for his candidature, but the efforts did not pay off.

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