Even though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got active barely three months ahead of the general elections in the city, it has projected itself as a ‘serious’ contender.
The major credit for this should go to the limelight party convener Arvind Kejriwal has hogged at the national level by targeting all voters and by trying to portray the organisation as ‘different’ from the BJP as well as the Congress.
The new party had initial flip-flops, but with Gul Panag’s nomination for Lok Sabha, it has been able to keep its house in order. A volunteer-driven party, AAP is struggling to stretch its wings across the city and to the grass roots. It received a fresh lease of life from the recent visit of Kejriwal for a road show on March 30.
The city unit was formed soon after the party was announced at the national level in November 2012. The old faces, Pallab Mukherjee and Colonel (retired) SS Saini, were seen pulling down each other in a fight for supremacy, which resulted in volunteers moving away. Later, the national unit had to dissolve the Chandigarh executive.
Rajeev Godara, who took charge in January to resurrect the party, after the visit of party national executive member, Yogendra Yadav, also had run-ins with local workers.
These issues also went to the party high command. However, the party has been able to enroll 80,000 members through online and door-to -door drives and gather ` 10 lakh.
Like most other places, in Chandigarh also, the party invited bio-data for Lok Sabha nominations. Later, the ticket was given to Savita Bhatti, who had not even applied, leading to resentment in workers and the 250-odd ticket aspirants.
Some of them openly opposed the move to give preference to ‘celebrities’ in ticket distribution. Bhatti tried to run the show for ten days, but backed out later, claiming that she was not getting the support of the workers.
The party ended up giving the ticket to Gul Panag, another celebrity face. Since her announcement as nominee, the party is trying to put up a united face.
The party is highlighting the issue of corruption. With no electoral baggage, the party has projected that the current system of governance of the union territory needs change.
It has been highlighting that two kinds of Chandigarh have been created --- one is the city of northern sectors and is blessed with all civic amenities; the other is the city of southern sectors, colonies and villages, which lack development.
The party also claims that there during Pawan Bansal’s tenure of 15 years, there has been ‘lack of development’. It is also pitching for ‘participatory democracy’, an idea the party has been highlighting at the national level as well.