The Aam Aadmi Party on Friday announced that former TV anchor and journalist Isudan Gadhvi would be its chief ministerial candidate for the next month's Gujarat assembly elections.
Gadhvi, 40, who belongs to an OBC community, received 73 per cent votes in a poll conducted by the party to choose its CM candidate, AAP's national convener Arvind Kejriwal said at a press conference here.
Gadhvi and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann were present as Kejriwal made the announcement.
Gadhvi was pitted against the AAP's state unit chief Gopal Italia, one of the prominent leaders in the Patidar quota agitation.
The AAP has been campaigning aggressively in the BJP-ruled state, projecting itself as the main alternative to the saffron party.
Gadhvi, who belongs to an Other Backward Class (OBC) community, comes from a farmers' family based at Pipaliya village in Devbhoomi Dwarka district. OBCs account for 48 per cent of Gujarat's population.
More than 16 lakh people voted in the poll conducted by the party and 73 per cent opted for Gadhvi, Kejriwal said.
Last week, the Delhi chief minister had urged people to convey their choice for the CM through text or WhatsApp messages, voice mail and e-mail by November 3 evening.
"It was people, not Kejriwal, who selected Mann as Punjab chief minister. During Punjab elections, we had asked people who should be the next chief minister. People named Bhagwant Mann by a huge majority. And as per the wishes of the public, we made him chief minister," Kejriwal said.
Surveys predicting the AAP's defeat in the Gujarat elections were not correct because no one can predict the performance of a new party through such surveys, he claimed.
"AAP secured 28 seats for the first time in Delhi when similar surveys had claimed that we will get zero seats. In Gujarat too all these surveys will eventually fail," said the Delhi CM.
The poll conducted by the party was not merely an exercise to select AAP's CM face but it was an exercise to "select the next chief minister of Gujarat as AAP is on its way to win the elections," Kejriwal said.
Gadhvi told reporters that he decided to quit his job and take a plunge into politics as he was inspired by Kejriwal, who too had quit his government job to enter politics.
"Good people join politics out of compulsion, not as a hobby. We have to enter the system to clean it up. I am entering politics because I have seen the sufferings of the people of Gujarat. Even during my career as a journalist, I have always raised issues concerning farmers, unemployed youth, women, labourers and shopkeepers," he said.
Gadhvi's family members who were present at the event burst into tears while expressing their feelings.
"It is in Isudan's nature to help people. I am confident that people of Gujarat will support him," said his mother Maniben.
Gadhvi's wife Hiral Gadvhi thanked the people of Gujarat and AAP for trusting him with such an important responsibility.
The AAP had on Thursday announced its ninth list of 10 candidates for the Gujarat polls, taking the number of candidates declared so far to 118.
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly will be held in two phases -- December 1 and 5 -- while votes will be counted on December 8.