Jubilant over the performance of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Gujarat civic polls, party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday tweeted, “The people of Surat have defeated a 125-year-old party, the Congress, to make the AAP main Opposition party”.
Besides the fact that the Congress is in fact a 135-years-old party, it is true that the AAP since its inception in 2012-13 has had a history of jettisoning the Grand Old Party from power, whether in Delhi in 2015 or 2020 or now in Gujarat.
AAP which emerged as the main Opposition against the Congress in Punjab in 2017, has now won 27 seats in the Surat municipal corporation against the BJP’s share of 93 out of a total seat count of 120. The Congress was unable to win a single seat.
The AAP’s win though small is still significant, especially in the face of the BJP’s growing footprint across the country and the Congress’s crumbling turfs, the recent example being the fall of the Puducherry government.
In a quiet, but effective way, Kejiriwal’s party is trying to expand its hold across states, even if it means winning local body seats. For starters, the AAP won the District Development Council Polls from Doda district in Jammu in 2020. The same year, the party registered its first win in the panchayat election of Goa, by winning the Benaulim seat.
Preparations for the Gujarat civic polls was entrusted in the able hands of the party’s senior leader Atishi while seniors including Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia campaigned for the polls.
The party now plans to expand on a national level and contest assembly polls in states including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
Analyses of AAP’s poll strategy say the party will try to cash in on its ‘pro-migrant’ image as well as the Delhi model of governance – cheaper water, electricity, Mohalla Clinics, and public transport – to reach out to voters in these states.
The preparation has already begun with leaders like Sisodia and Sanjay Singh making visit to the poll-bound states. Sisodia has been a frequent visitor to Uttarakhand, which has been alternately ruled by the BJP and Congress since its inception in 2000.
AAP’s next destination could be Assam which is bound for assembly polls this year. The party could emerge victorious if it is able to tap into the brewing sentiment against the BJP government’s Citizenship Amendment Act as well as a collective will to preserve Assam’s culture.
Incidentally the party had failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat of the 14 it contested in the state on 2014. But this time around, it is speculated to tie up with Asom Jaitya Parishad (AJP), a new party founded by students’ unions during the anti-CAA protests, for the assembly polls.