Days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) bagged 27 seats in the civic body polls of Gujarat’s Surat, party chief Arvind Kejriwal on Friday congratulated the people of the city for putting up an impressive show.
“I have come here to thank people of Surat,” the Delhi Chief Minister said while speaking to reporters at the airport.
He congratulated AAP workers of the state for putting up a spectacular show, giving competition to the BJP and leading to the rout of Congress in local body-level.
“Why has BJP been governing here for the last 25 years? It’s not as if they are doing great. There are a lot of issues. Different parties come to power in states across the country but only one party is governing here,” he told partymen.
He attributed the BJP’s long-standing rule in the state to the absence of a strong Opposition.
“There is no one to tell them anything. They are doing whatever they want. For the first time, when there came someone to look the BJP in the eye, which is you all, people gave you respect,” Kejriwal.
“I have been listening to statements of BJP and Congress, over the past few days after the results. They are perturbed, a little scared. We have to understand that they are not scared of you or AAP. They are scared of people who voted for you,” he said.
Kejriwal is scheduled to take part in a road show in the city later in the day. It will begin from Varracha area and end at Sarthana, where he will address a public meeting. During his visit, he will also meet local office- bearers of his party and the newly-elected corporators.
The AAP has made inroads into Gujarat’s politics by winning 27 seats of Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), one of the six cities where voting was held on Sunday. Although the BJP has retained power by winning 93 seats in the 120-member SMC, the AAP has become the opposition party by winning the remaining 27 seats. The Congress, which had won 36 seats in 2015, could not bag even a single seat this time.
One of the main reasons for AAPs impressive show in Surat was the support it received from Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), a quota agitation body once led by Hardik Patel, who is now the working president of Gujarat Congress, political experts said.
Although the PAAS is virtually defunct, two of its prominent members – Alpesh Kathiria and Dharmik Malavia – are still active in Surat and command support of Patidar voters.
The Congress had managed to win 36 seats in Patidarr dominated areas of Surat in the last election, riding on the anti-BJP wave created by the PAAS in 2015. In this election, those voters turned to AAP due to anti-Congress stand taken by both Kathiria and Malavia, who had openly pledged to defeat Congress in Surat after differences between them and Congress emerged over the issue of ticket distribution, the analysts said.
It was for the first time that the AAP had fielded its candidates in the municipal polls in Gujarat. Although the party had fielded candidates in all six cities of Gujarat, it managed to win seats in Surat alone.
(With inputs from agencies)