Kejriwal goes on expansion drive

Riding high on success of Delhi polls, AAP seeks to strengthen base in neighbouring states, writes Rajendra Khatry

Riding high on its massive victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is now planning to spread its wings to other states by capitalising on the momentum. In the years to come AAP is likely to expand bases in nearby states, including Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Sources in AAP say the party will try to project its `Arvind Kejriwal model of Development’ in all these states.

AAP may also participate in the BBMP polls likely to be held in the second half of this year. The AAP did achieve success in Punjab Lok Sabha polls in 2014 after its success in Delhi where the party secured four seats. Unfortunately there arose differences in the party over the style of functioning of AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and many top national as well as Punjab leaders either quit or continued to have differences with the party leadership.

But after the third successive success in Delhi assembly elections, where AAP managed to thwart the challenge from the BJP, there is a new ray of hope among party workers.

Assembly elections in both Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are still two years away, but AAP plans to begin preparations right away. From February 23, AAP will launch a membership drive in Uttar Pradesh, according to senior AAP leader, Rajya Sabha member and AAP in-charge in UP, Sanjay Singh. Taking lessons from the past in other states, AAP will go step by step. First the party will strengthen its base in all the 403 assembly constituencies of UP. Next assembly election is due in UP in 2022. So the party has a lot of time to prepare.

Like many other parties which use the method of missed calls for people to become member, AAP will also do so with a difference that it will give receipts when people become members by missed call or enroll on the AAP website. Lakhs of posters and banners will also be put up in the entire state to highlight AAP’s model of politics and development, according to sources in the party. In fact in its bid to go national AAP has formulated a three-point action plan to expand its footprint. AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, had also hinted at the party’s interest to expand pan India recently. He said election had given birth to a new kind of politics which will build 21st century India.

All state units of the party will now launch a campaign to expand the party’s membership and outreach through a missed call campaign. The party certainly has an expansion plan, according to AAP leader and cabinet minister Gopal Rai who presided over a meeting of state office bearers last week to deliberate upon the party’s expansion plans. The party plans to reach voters at the grassroots level and contest local body elections.

According to Gopal Rai, the agenda of the AAP meeting held under him was to discuss the message of the historic win in the Delhi elections purely on the basis of unprecedented development works in Delhi. It was decided that the message should be disseminated across the country loud and clear so that it leaves a lasting impression. This was an election which reportedly changed the entire nature of political discourse in the country.

AAP therefore feels that it is the right time now to use the energy and enthusiasm of the party volunteers to expand the party base in the county. The AAP victory was decisive as the BJP had made every effort to win the Delhi poll and all top leaders of the BJP had campaigned rigorously in the election. Yet AAP managed to win 62 of the 70 seats in Delhi, while the BJP could win just 8 seats. Now AAP wants to use this massive victory as a springboard to expand the party’s base in the country.

Meanwhile AAP has launched an extensive campaign to invite people to take part in its ‘nation building’ programme by giving a missed call on the number 9871010101. AAP claims that around 1.21 crore missed calls have already been received in just a few days from February 11.

Talking to Tehelka, Yogeshwar Sharma, Ambala Lok Sabha and Panchkula district president whose team had actively campaigned in the recently held Delhi Assembly elections, said as part of its three-stage plan, the party will hold a state-level meeting of all active volunteers and office bearers. He said as part of the party’s campaign, posters inviting people to join the ‘nation building’ programme would be released in all legislative assembly constituencies in India.

Yogeshwar Sharma said AAP leaders would hold press conferences in capital cities of every state to spread AAP’s message. “AAP is likely to contest Municipal polls in both Delhi and Maharashtra. Our main focus now will be contesting Punjab assembly elections to be held in 2022. We already have 22 MLAs in the state, but hope to come to power next time. The Delhi poll results have enthused the party workers. They will work with double energy now,” says Sharma

According to Yogeshwar Sharma the Aam Aadmi Party’s spirits are also strong in Punjab after forming the government again with an overwhelming majority in Delhi. The Punjab state unit of the party may exert pressure to strengthen the organisation in the state. The goal will be to connect more and more people in the future. The party will start preparing for the Assembly elections from now itself. With the help of Delhi model, emphasis will also be laid on strengthening penetration in Punjab.

“AAP plans to make a move to bring back to the party fold many of the leaders who had quit the party owing to one or the other reason. Many leaders will realize now the potential of the party after the success in Delhi. Henceforth all efforts till be made to strengthen the AAP at the grass roots level. Next assembly election in Punjab will be very crucial,” says Sharma.

Taking lesson from AAP’s success in Delhi polls, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has decided to focus on four major needs of the people — education, health, electricity and water. Recently Captain Amarinder summoned all the Deputy Commissioners (DC) to Chandigarh and instructed them to solve the problems of education, health, electricity and water for the standard of living on priority.

Incidentally, these are the four priorities that AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, working on, counted the public as his government’s achievements during the election and won 62 out of 70 seats in the assembly elections. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also ordered a comprehensive monitoring of development and welfare schemes related to these four major sectors.

Incidentally, AAP has one seat in the Lok Sabha and is the main opposition party with leader of opposition in the Punjab legislative assembly. AAP failed to win any seat in assembly elections in Haryana and Goa last year. But the Delhi success may change its fortunes.