Lawyer and social worker Amit Palekar is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s chief ministerial candidate for Goa, party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced today.
Mr Palekar is from the OBC Bhandari community, which accounts for about 35 per cent of Goa's population. He was recently in the news for his hunger strike to protest illegal construction at an Old Goa heritage site.
The 46-year-old, who joined AAP this October, is the party's candidate from the St Cruz Assembly constituency currently represented by the BJP.
Mr Kejriwal and Mr Palekar hugged after the announcement at a function in Panaji. AAP MLA Atishi was also present.
"Goa wants a change and AAP has been getting a tremendous response in the coastal state. People are impressed with the Delhi model of governance," Mr Kejriwal said. He added that this time, the party has given tickets to fresh faces across the state.
Before announcing Mr Palekar's name, Mr Kejriwal said the party had chosen a "honest man" as the face of its campaign in the coastal state. He also said that they had picked a person well known for his welfare work in the community.
"We had promised you that we will give you a (chief ministerial) face whose heart beats for Goa and who 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," he said.
"Keeping in mind the politics in Goa, it is most important that he is someone who is honest," Mr Kejriwal said.
Mr Kejriwal said that while the Bhandari community account for about 35 per cent of Goa's population, there has been only one Chief Minister from among them -- Ravi Naik -- for two-and-a-half years.
Countering criticism that the party was resorting to caste politics, he said they were only "correcting" the politics over caste by other parties.
The AAP has announced that it will contest all 40 seats in BJP-ruled state in the February 14 polls. Apart from the ruling BJP and opposition Congress, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Shiv Sena are also in the contest this time.
The announcement by AAP came a day after the party announced MP and senior leader Bhagwant Mann as its chief minister candidate in Punjab following a televoting drive among voters.