Television entertainer Rakhi Sawant on Friday bid farewell to the industry and launched her political career by establishing a new party called Rashtriya Aam Party (RAAP). She will file her nomination for the Lok Sabha election from Mumbai Northwest on Saturday, hoping to receive the green chilli symbol that “resembles her persona”.
Gaily displaying green chilly-shaped earrings and a bracelet, Sawant the party’s only candidate for now, said, “I am neither an orphan politician nor an Independent. Now I have my own party. I am the vice-president.” She defended the party’s choice of name, which is a take-off on the Aam Aadmi Party, saying the two had nothing in common. “I will release a proper manifesto after a few days but I want to serve the poor and uplift the status of women. I will give my last drop of blood to serve the ‘dukhi janata’ and provide an alternative to those who are fed up with corruption,” she said at a press conference in Oshiwara Friday.
The dramatic launch of the new outfit days before the general election draws doubts about the backing of a bigger force. RAAP’s office bearers and fundraisers are local businessmen from Oshiwara, including Kishanlal Hans, chairman of the Heera Panna Mall, where the press conference was organised. Others on the dais were property dealer Shriprakash Dubey and some restaurateurs. Their wives make up the party’s women’s wing. “We have dabbled in politics by helping bigger parties before, but the problem is that one can invest a lifetime of work and not receive a nomination even for the assembly election,” Dubey told TOI.
Mumbai Northwest spans the film-television neighbourhoods of Andheri, Goregaon and Dindoshi. Sitting Congress MP Gurudas Kamat is running neck and neck with the Shiv Sena-BJP combine’s Gajanan Kirtikar. AAP has fielded Mayank Gandhi, the MNS has put up actor-director Mahesh Manjrekar, while entertainer Kamaal R Khan is the Samajwadi Party candidate.