OBC leader Amit Palekar is AAP’s chief ministerial face for Goa Assembly polls

Palekar belongs to the Bhandari OBC community in Goa which accounts for around 35 per cent of the coastal state’s population

Palekar with AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday (January 19) named lawyer and social worker Amit Palekar as its chief ministerial candidate for the Goa Assembly polls slated for next month.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal who announced the name at a press conference in Panaji said that the party has chosen an “honest man” and one who is known for doing welfare work for the public as its chief ministerial face.

The Delhi Chief Minister said that the AAP will be contesting in all the 40 Assembly seats in Goa for the February 14 polls.

Palekar belongs to the Bhandari clan, an OBC community in Goa which accounts for around 35 per cent of the coastal state’s population.

Ravi Naik is the only member from the Bhandari community to have become the chief minister of the state. He served for a tenure of two-and-a-half years.

“We had promised you that we will give you a face whose heart beats for Goa and who would lay down his life for Goa, someone who will take everyone along, irrespective of their religion or caste, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, irrespective of whether they stay in north Goa or south Goa,” Kejriwal said.

Asked if he was resorting to caste politics by fielding a name from the Bhandari community, Kejriwal said his party was instead trying to “correct” the politics of caste practised in the state.

The AAP has been a frontrunner in announcing its chief ministerial candidates in poll-bound states. The party on Tuesday announced Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial candidate for the Punjab Assembly Polls. Last year it announced that former colonel Ajay Kothiyal will be its chief ministerial face for the Uttarakhand Assembly elections.

The Delhi-based party is trying to make inroads into other states to establish itself as a national outfit. In 2017 Assembly elections, the AAP despite launching a whirlwind campaign in Goa and fielding 39 candidates had failed to secure a single seat.

Taking a dig at the party’s ambitions, Congress leader Chidambaram recently said that the battle in Goa is between the Congress and the ruling BJP and that the AAP and Trinamool Congress will only eat into the non-BJP votes.

Kejriwal, had rebutted the accusation, by stating the people of Goa will vote where they see hope.

Apart from the AAP, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the Shiv Sena will also be in the fray of the polls.

The counting of votes will take place on March 10.

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