NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Karnataka has started preparations for the upcoming Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections. The party unit of Karnataka is working round the clock to build its cadre. The local body poll is being looked at as a litmus test before the 2023 Assembly elections.
While speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Prithvi Reddy, State Convener, AAP Karnataka, said: “On the appeal of the public, AAP is stepping in the elections. AAP Karnataka wants to fill the vacuum created by other mainstream parties like BJP, Congress and Janta Dal (Secular).” AAP and Congress both accuse the current ruling dispensation in the state of being corrupt. Highlighting corruption, commission culture and nexus in the local body are the main poll issues for AAP in the BBMP elections.
“Earlier people used to pay 10-20% commission as graft to government employees, but now people are coerced to pay 30-40% commission,” said Prithvi Reddy. Reddy further said, “Both Congress and Janta Dal (Secular) have failed to address public issues as opposition and in this situation, people think AAP is the only solution.”
Recently, former Karnataka Congress leader Brijesh Kalappa, a well-known face of the party on TV channels joined AAP, Kalappa is not alone; former Bengaluru police commissioner Bhaskar Rao joined the party in April and popular Kannada actor and former member of the Karnataka legislative council H.N. Chandrashekhar joined in June after quitting the Congress.
Apart from bringing prominent faces into the party, AAP is also working on the ground to increase its cadre. Two months ago, AAP launched the “Gram Sampark Abhiyan”, to increase its outreach on the booth level. In every village and booth, AAP is inducting a 10-member team. The party’s main target is to enrol 10,000 members in each of Bangalore’s 243 wards. “We have started our membership drive two months ago and after two months, we will have our ground cadre in the state,” said an AAP leader. “AAP leadership is hopeful about this drive, soon our goodwill would convert into votes,” said Prithvi Reddy.
AAP has also roped in famous urbanist Ashwin Mahesh to prepare the party’s manifesto for BBMP elections. AAP will introduce ward level manifesto in addition to a city manifesto “People are most concerned about development around their homes, which they can relate to 243 ward manifestos that are detailed enough to address the issues in each locality will be published,” Mahesh said. AAP and Mahesh are also planning to connect with the public to know their concerns and issues. With the conversation campaign ‘Namma Ooru Charche’, AAP will try to reach one lakh city residents, so that they can address ground issues in the manifesto. In addition, the party would also give guarantee cards to voters, “so that five years later, people can check if the party has kept the promises,” Mahesh said. Keeping the current flood situation in Bangalore on the centre stage, AAP is trying to corner both BJP and Congress. The senior leadership of AAP Karnataka and workers are reaching out to people on boats and tractors amid the deluge in the Silicon Valley. “We are not going to spare the BJP, Congress and JD(S) for their failure. The national parties are playing a blame game over the Bengaluru floods,” said Reddy. “The corruption and greed of these parties have made the situation worse for the city. Where there should be a passage for the water, they have built buildings with the real estate mafia,” AAP accused.
The party which is nascent in the state’s politics is hoping to sweep the upcoming BBMP election in the same way as in Punjab. “We will sweep all other parties,” said an AAP leader. The central leadership of the party is also keeping a keen eye on the developments. This week, MLA from Delhi and chief whip of Delhi government, Dilip Pandey, who is also election in-charge of Karnataka, visited Bengaluru to inaugurate AAP’s media centre in the party’s head office.