India's self-styled anti-corruption party has announced its first candidates to contest national elections, days after its leader resigned as chief minister for Delhi state after his anti-corruption bill was blocked by India's main political parties.
The AAP on Sunday announced its first 21 members to stand in elections due in May against members of the two main political parties – the ruling Congress party and the Hindu nationalist BJP. They will contest 350 seats out of 543 in the national parliament.
"This is our first list of 20 clean candidates and we will be putting out more lists from different parts of the country in the days ahead," senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said.
In a last-minute addition to the list, tribal rights activist and school teacher Soni Sori was named party's candidate from tribal-dominated Bastar seat in Chhattisgarh state.
Sori, who has been accused by the Chhattisgarh government of helping the Naxals, will take on incumbent MP Dinesh Kashyap of the BJP.
The move comes less than 48 hours after Kejriwal resigned as chief minister of Delhi state, along with his cabinet colleagues, when the two main parties combined to thwart his efforts to introduce a new anti-corruption bill or Jan Lok Pal, dubbing it as unconstitutional.
Kejriwal quit only 49 days after his party took power in the capital, following a stunning breakthrough in the Delhi state election in December that highlighted widespread public anger with the political establishment.
The party surprised many observers by winning 28 seats in Delhi's 70-member assembly on its debut.
The move leaves Kejriwal, a former anti-corruption crusader, clear to lead his party into battle against the Congress party and the BJP.
The list of AAP candidates includes activists and professionals who quit their jobs to join the new party.
On Friday the BJP and Congress blocked Kejriwal's move to introduce the anti-corruption bill, a key promise at the Delhi polls, into the state assembly.
Media reported on Sunday that donations to the AAP's election campaign have swelled dramatically since then.
During its brief stint in power, Kejriwal unveiled a series of headline-grabbing initiatives, including an anti-corruption hotline aimed at checking corruption among police and bureaucrats.
After shunning the usual official car and instead taking the subway to his swearing-in ceremony, Kejriwal then slashed electricity costs and announced free water supplies.
But while his elevation was initially widely welcomed as a much-needed shock to the system, the former tax inspector has since come in for criticism over a series of stand-offs with the authorities.