The lack of any apex decision making body of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh and the party’s plan to stay away from the Assembly lections in the state next month, are making many party workers inch towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Last year, AAP had dissolved its national and state executive councils in Himachal Pradesh and even after the Election Commission announced polls for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly for 9 November, the party failed to form these decision making bodies in the state. 

Earlier this year, senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said that there was a growing demand from the party cadre in the state to contest the Assembly elections; therefore, the AAP had formed a seven-member committee to assess the ground reality in the state, but since then, the AAP has remained silent.

On AAP’s silence, political observers say that after witnessing the party’s defeat in Punjab, AAP has lost confidence to contest the polls in Himachal Pradesh. On the AAP’s move to stay away from Himachal Pradesh polls, Karan Singh Rawat, a former AAP office bearer in the state, said: “Since there is no apex decision making body of AAP in Himachal Pradesh, most of the party workers are inching towards the BJP.” Earlier this month, after seeing the “total silence” of the AAP central leadership on contesting the Assembly elections in the state, Rawat himself had joined the BJP.

“Several party leaders were of the opinion that AAP should have contested the polls in Himachal to give a third front to the people, as at present the contest in the state is confined between two parties—the BJP and Congress. AAP workers in the state were enthusiastic and were working hard on the ground. Since the party’s central leadership did not show any interest in contesting the Assembly elections, baffled party workers started joining BJP,” Rawat added.

Ramesh Dhawala, a former minister and BJP leader, said: “AAP has no base in Himachal Pradesh. Voters have rejected the party in Punjab and if it had contested elections in Himachal Pradesh, the party would have faced a worse defeat than in Punjab.” 

Not only AAP, but the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had fielded 67 candidates in the last Assembly elections in 2012, has also decided to stay away from the poll fray in Himachal Pradesh. 

The BSP’s decision to stay away is being seen by many observers as a “clear pass” to the Congress in Himachal Pradesh; however, a section of political commentators say that the state’s electoral politics is more about regional divide than caste.

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