The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is unlikely to contest the Gujarat Assembly elections due sometime later this year, as the senior leadership in Delhi is “not convinced” with the preparations done by the party’s Gujarat unit for the polls. A formal decision by the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party will be taken soon after the Presidential polls are over, according to sources.
The 15-member team from the party’s Gujarat unit, which was here last week to meet party supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with other senior leaders, and discuss the possibility of contesting the state Assembly elections, went back unhappy as they were expecting a positive outcome from the meeting.
Some leaders in the AAP’s Gujarat unit are also apprehensive of unhappiness among several members and leaders who could be leaving the party in the event of the central leadership’s decision not to fight the elections in the state, as they could either join another political outfit or many could also contest as independent candidates from the state, causing further damage to the party in Gujarat.
Highly-placed sources, who are privy to the meeting here last week, said that the Gujarat unit had been trying to convince the central leadership about “preparations they had done on the ground”. “The team had come with all preparations to show that they were prepared to occupy a significant political space in Gujarat, if not win the elections, and all members from the team, except a lady member, were keen on going forward with contesting the elections there. But the leadership here in Delhi seemed reluctant in giving the final nod, fearing loss and another embarrassment.”
Kanubhai Kalsariya, senior leader of the AAP’s Gujarat unit and Saurashtra zonal in-charge, told The Sunday Guardian: “We all wanted to contest elections as we were preparing for it for quite some time now. I think we should contest as elections are not always about winning. Unless we contest elections, we will not be recognised as a force in the state and would lose connect with the masses.”
He also said that finances had been one of the key reasons for the central leadership to hold back from giving its nod. “We are not financially strong in the state and the central leadership is also facing financial problems in Delhi as they had recently contested Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa and MCD elections in Delhi. Having said that, I believe that once a party decides to contest elections, good people come into the party fold and donations also start coming in.”
However, sources within the AAP’s central leadership said that they are unlikely to contest elections in Gujarat to save them from another national embarrassment. “In Gujarat, we are neither going to win nor would we be able to garner a significant number of seats and the results would bring out another embarrassment for the party and could also affect the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Therefore, we have decided to go slow and make the right choices,” a source said.