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.
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, AAP’s Punjab chief Bhagwant Mann by his side.
The phone line is jam packed already ????
— AAP Punjab (@AAPPunjab) January 13, 2022
“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 later said it had received over 2.8 lakh calls in the first four hours.
AAP also launched a poster that said: “Janta chunegi apna CM (People will choose their Chief Minister). Call 7074870748.”
The dial-a-choice option is seen to hint at AAP’s reluctance to go official with Bhagwant Mann, who has waited long for the party to name him as its face for the Punjab election on February 14.
Reports said AAP was also in touch with Balbir Rajewal, a farm union leader. But talks with him apparently failed, and AAP was left with limited options.
The results of the phone survey, say AAP leaders, is important for Mr Kejriwal to divine whether Mr Mann is the choice of Punjabi voters.
Asked about Mr Mann and the party’s Punjab plan, Mr Kejriwal said: “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.”
On whether he was 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.
In the 2017 assembly election, the Congress party won 77 of the 117 constituencies of Punjab. AAP had emerged second, winning 20 seats. The Akali Dal had won 15 seats and its now separated alliance partner BJP, had won three seats.