Still, Ahmadinejad appears to be more active by the day. His many provincial visits and speeches have even prompted objections from some officials within the administration of President Hassan Rouhani. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated, “Ahmadinejad has been warned that the launch of any political campaign before the official election period is illegal. He needs to have legal permits for his gatherings, not to mention that the content of his speeches is controversial and has the tone of an election campaign.” Still, Ahmadinejad continues to ignore these warnings and suggestions and is forging ahead with his activities, just as he did during his time in office.
The question is how can a person who won two presidential elections by relying on Principlist support possibly hope to make a comeback amid blunt criticism from the Principlists? Prominent Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam told Al-Monitor, “Ahmadinejad knows that he is the only person who can challenge Rouhani. He also knows that the Principlists have no other candidate except him. [Former nuclear negotiator] Saeed Jalili and [Tehran Mayor] Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf have already faced defeat against Rouhani in the previous vote. They do not have the ability to compete against Rouhani. Also, Ahmadinejad hopes that as the 2017 election nears, he can convince the Principlists to support him.”