Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Are AAP Candidates Truly 'AAM'? Assessing Their Wealth and Legal Entanglements

Despite the common perception of the Indian common man as someone with modest assets and a clean legal record, a review of AAP candidates' election affidavits by The Mooknayak reveals a different reality. These candidates, far from fitting the typical profile, possess significant wealth and are entangled in legal controversies.
Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Are AAP Candidates Truly 'AAM'? Assessing Their Wealth and Legal Entanglements

New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was created with the promise of bringing common masses to the forefront of electoral politics, has recently released the list of some of its candidates. Names matter more than ideologies during the election time, and this seems to be the same case for the party too.  

Kuldeep Kumar, the incumbent MLA from Kondli, has been selected as the AAP’s nominee for the East Delhi constituency. Currently held by BJP’s Gautam Gambhir, this electoral move sets the stage for a strong contest.

Meanwhile, Somnath Bharti, the MLA from Malviya Nagar and the vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, has been chosen to contest from New Delhi. This constituency is presently represented in the Lok Sabha by BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi.

Mahabal Mishra, a former Member of Parliament from West Delhi, representing the Congress, is believed to be now vying for the AAP banner. Having previously contested unsuccessfully in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections against BJP’s Parvesh Verma, Mishra is back in the electoral fray.

Meanwhile, the AAP has nominated Sahi Ram Pahalwan, the MLA from Tughlakabad, as its candidate for the South Delhi seat, currently held by BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri.

In the case of Haryana, the AAP has fielded its former Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Gupta from Kurukshetra.

The AAP has revealed its selection of three candidates for the state of Assam: Manoj Dhanohar for Dibrugarh, Bhaven Chaudhary for Guwahati and Rishi Raj for Sonitpur.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party has made a noteworthy decision by nominating Chaitar Vasava, the MLA from Dediapada in Gujarat, as its candidate for the Bharuch seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. What sets this decision apart is that Chaitar Vasava is currently in jail.

Despite his incarceration, Kejriwal has officially declared Vasava as the party’s contender for the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat.

It also fielded Umeshbhai Makwana from Bhavnagar.

Candidates from the northern state of Punjab, where the party is currently ruling, have not been declared yet.

AAP has set out to battle the Delhi LS seats with the help of its three MLAs and a former MP.
AAP has set out to battle the Delhi LS seats with the help of its three MLAs and a former MP.Image source- Jagran

Who the Candidates Are

Kuldeep, nominated for the East Delhi constituency, represents a notable shift in political dynamics. As a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate and the son of a sanitation worker, his candidacy reflects AAP’s commitment to promote diversity and social inclusion.

Interestingly, despite belonging to the SC community, he has been fielded from an unreserved seat. The decision shows the party’s attempt to mainstream the community. 

The decision to field Chaitar Vasava from Bharuch in Gujarat appears to be a deliberate political maneuver, with AAP taking a critical stance against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by labeling it as “anti-minority”.

Vasava’s advocacy for a separate Bhil Pradesh for tribals in the west in 2023 adds a dimension of regional representation.

Umeshwar Makwana, the AAP candidate from Bhavnagar, belongs to the Koli caste, which comes under the Other Backward Castes (OBC).

Despite its liberal image, the AAP faces scrutiny for the absence of female or transgender candidates in the run up for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. This aspect raises questions about the party’s commitment to gender diversity and inclusivity.

While the AAP has demonstrated a progressive outlook in various aspects, the absence of female and transgender representation highlights an area where the party may need to address concerns and work towards a more comprehensive and inclusive candidate selection process.

One can also observe the absence of any candidate from the religious minorities. It will be interesting to note if the party will be taking steps in actually promoting diversity in the future.

Assets & Cases- Deviation from the Common Man Image

The candidates fielded by the Aam Aadmi Party seem to deviate from the "common man" image often associated with the party, based on their financial disclosures and legal statuses as reported on Myneta.info, an open data repository platform operated by the Association for Democratic Reforms.

Contrary to the prevailing image of the common man in India, characterized by modest holdings, minimal assets, and a clean legal record, a closer examination of the election affidavits of AAP candidates reveals a stark departure from this perception.

The Mooknayak scrutinized these affidavits and uncovered a striking disparity: these candidates are far from embodying the common man spirit synonymous with the' Aam aadmi of India.'

Sushil Kumar Gupta emerges as one of the wealthiest candidates, representing AAP in Kurukshetra, Haryana. With assets exceeding 170 crores rupees (Rs 1,70,31,43,238), Gupta's financial prowess is notable. However, his candidacy is clouded by two criminal proceedings, one of which involves deceitful and dishonestly obtaining property delivery, which is covered under the section 420 of the Indian Penal Code

The contender from the tribal region of Bharuch, Gujarat, Chaitarbhai Damjibhai Vasava, is an imprisoned MLA with assets of over Rs 60,87,000 (more than 60 lakhs). He is accused of eight crimes, one of which is sexual harassment. Umeshbhai Makwana, the other Gujarati contender, is not charged with any crimes, and he has 85 lakhs (Rs 85,17,847 to be exact) in declared assets.

Somnath Bharti, contesting from New Delhi, has disclosed assets totaling 1,42,52,677 rupees, which exceeds 1 crore. However, Bharti's financial disclosure is accompanied by legal complications, as he has six criminal cases pending against him. These pending cases cast doubt on his suitability for public office and raise concerns about his ability to effectively represent his constituents.

Mahabal Mishra has four criminal cases against him and has reported assets of Rs 33,21,83,890 (33 crores).

The contender for South Delhi, Sahiram Pahalwan, is accused of two crimes and possesses assets worth over one crore rupees, totaling Rs 1,36,09,008 in total.

Rather than mirroring the financial circumstances of the average citizen, these candidates exhibit significant wealth and substantial assets, challenging the notion of being representatives of the common masses.

Moreover, while the common man is often associated with steering clear of controversies and legal entanglements, the examination of AAP candidates' affidavits unveils a different reality. Instead of maintaining a clean legal record, several candidates are embroiled in various legal proceedings, including criminal cases and allegations, casting doubt on their ability to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability expected of public representatives.

AAP-Cong Seat-Sharing

The electoral landscape is undergoing significant shifts as the Congress and the AAP as part of the INDIA alliance have agreed upon a seat-sharing formula for the upcoming general elections. According to this arrangement, the Congress is slated to contest in key constituencies currently held by the BJP.

In Delhi, the Congress will field candidates from North East Delhi, North West Delhi and Chandni Chowk constituencies, all of which are presently represented by the BJP in the Lok Sabha.

Moving to Gujarat, the Congress is set to contest in 24 constituencies, while the AAP will test its electoral fortunes in Bhavnagar and Bharuch.

However, in certain regions like Punjab, both parties are choosing to go solo.

The AAP, which currently holds power in the state, had previously declared its intention to contest all 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

As the seat-sharing dynamics continue to evolve, the political scenario leading up to the Lok Sabha elections promises to be dynamic and closely watched. It will be interesting to observe how these strategic alliances and independent contests shape the electoral outcomes in the respective constituencies and states.

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