‘Results of local body polls have given hope to AAP, but the party needs to strengthen itself in the rural areas’.
NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) cadre in Gujarat has been trying to stand as a strong alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The AAP members have stated that the party is capable of replacing Congress in the upcoming Assembly election in 2022. Most of the AAP candidates believe that Congress is in a weaker position in the state as Congress has been dealing with some organisational issues in the state. As per sources, the number of Congress MLAs has dropped to 65 from 77 in 2017, with several defecting ahead of Vidhan Sabha elections. Despite joining the party in 2019, Gujarat Congress Committee working president Hardik Patel has not been welcomed by the party due to the state-wide quota agitation. Therefore, the majority of local party members have stated that Congress is a sinking ship, while the BJP is seen as a dominant party in the state.
“The karyakartas (workers) need to take their work seriously. The AAP started working in 2013, but since the BJP is in a stronger position, the party needs to work harder. The AAP has the capability to replace Congress,” a member of the AAP in Gujarat told The Sunday Guardian.
Some of the workers have claimed that the party has been receiving a good response from the urban areas. However, the rural areas of the state don’t have much presence of AAP. The results of the local body elections have brought a ray of hope to the AAP, but the party needs to strengthen itself in the rural areas.
Speaking to the correspondent, the president of the minority cell of AAP, Gujarat, Mohammad Arif Ansari, claimed, “Most of the issues existing within the minorities are still untouched by the ruling party of the state. We are working on strengthening our organisation in rural areas. There are approximately 18,000 villages in the state where we have been working for the last six months.”
Sources closer to the party told this correspondent that there are 13 sangathans and an additional 11 sanganthans are to be added in the future. The party insiders have also claimed that though Gopal Italia and Isudan Gadhvi are two quite popular faces in the state, Gopal Italia is much more popular than Isudan Gadhvi. Several residents of Delhi and Haryana have stated that they have been satisfied with the Delhi model. A Gujarat-based political analyst, Manibhai Patel, told this paper, “The BJP is slightly concerned about the growing presence of AAP in the state, but the party (AAP) needs to be stronger on the ground level. At present, the BJP is stronger. If AAP comes into the picture, there is a possibility that the vote share of Congress may go down. This will help the BJP to gain more votes in the state.”
Patel also said that the people of Gujarat have a different mindset. The people of Gujarat are satisfied with the BJP, so the AAP needs some stronger ground to influence the people of the state. “The year 2014 was quite emotional for every Gujarati as Narendra Modi, the then CM of Gujarat, became the Prime Minister. During the period of the Congress, there were several riots and violence, but during the reign of the BJP, there has not been much violence. There is peace now; issues like unemployment and education won’t be an effective agenda in this state,” he told this paper.
He added, “Most of the faces in the AAP Gujarat are quite new and aren’t popular to an extent. The people of Gujarat have not been witnessing any alternative to the BJP.” As per various sources, the AAP may replace Congress as the party made an entry into the state by winning 27 seats in the municipal corporation, while the BJP won 93 seats. The BJP won 41 seats in the Gandhinagar municipal corporation, the AAP only one, and the Congress only two. In the Rajkot civic polls, the AAP secured 17% of the vote share in February. Several sources close to the party said that the AAP is focusing on winning BJP-ruled states at present. So, the party is working on cutting down the vote share of the Congress to emerge as an alternative party to the BJP.