Uttarakhand: Ex-Army officer Ajay Kothiyal AAP's pick for CM candidate
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday announced that retired Army officer Ajay Kothiyal will become the party's Chief Ministerial face in the 2022 Uttarakhand Assembly elections. The announcement was made by AAP Convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in Dehradun. Kejriwal said Kothiyal was chosen based on feedback received from people who are tired of politicians who have only "looted the state."
Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, who joined the AAP in April this year, is an Indian Army veteran. He served the Army for 27 years. A former principal of Uttarkashi's Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), he is well-known for his work in the aftermath of the 2013 Kedarnath disaster. He also manages an institute that trains and motivates local youths to join the armed forces.
Addressing a rally in Dehradun, Kejriwal said, "People here want a break from politicians who have only looted the state. They now want an Army man as CM who will not spend his tenure filling his coffers but serve them." Further, the AAP Convener asked, "Should a person like...Kothiyal be the future CM...or corrupt leaders from the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)?
Kejriwal said the AAP will develop the state as a spiritual capital for Indians if voted to power. "The party will develop the state as a spiritual capital for Indians staying across the world. It will also provide employment to the youth," Kejriwal said. Earlier, he had promised 300 units of free electricity, free power for farmers, waiver of old bills, and 24-hour electricity.
The AAP has already announced that they will contest in all 70 Assembly seats in the Uttarakhand Assembly elections next year. Reportedly, the party was considering to field Kothiyal from the Gangotri Assembly constituency in by-polls amid speculation that the then-CM, Tirath Singh Rawat, may contest from there. However, Tirath resigned as CM in July. The by-polls have not yet been announced.
The Uttarakhand Assembly elections are due to be held next February. In the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had secured a stupendous victory by winning 57 out of 70 Assembly constituencies. While Trivendra Singh Rawat was made CM of the state in 2017, in the last six months, the BJP has changed its CM twice, first installing Tirath Singh Rawat, then Pushkar Singh Dhami.