In a well-crafted strategy, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to be targeting those states where the Congress is in a direct fight with the BJP or a regional force.
The strategy of the AAP to hit the Congress in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh seems to reflect this focus. Even Rajasthan is on its radar.
It was the AAP’s landslide victory in 2015 assembly elections in Delhi where the battle was primarily between the Congress and the BJP that prompted the new party to reshape its electoral strategy for other states to capitalise on shifting Congress votes.
As part of its plan, the AAP is not contesting the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh but will fight it out in Goa and Punjab. While the ruling Samajwadi Party is locked in a bitter battle with the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh with the BJP virtually the third force, the AAP’s entry in Goa and Punjab has directly hit the Congress prospects of regaining power in these two states. UP, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur go to polls in February-March next year.
“We are going to states where Congress is unable to give a fight to BJP or regional parties,” said an AAP strategist. “Moreover, we see a tacit understanding between the Congress and BJP when it comes to AAP. Arvind Kejriwal openly attacked the Modi government over Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh but if you see the language of Congress and BJP on the issues of advertisements and parliamentary secretary their language is similar,” he said.
While the AAP deliberately decided against contesting the upcoming elections in Uttarakhand after a rebellion in its state unit, the party has made significant inroads in Odisha.
For its part, the Congress believes the AAP is working with the BJP-RSS to ensure a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’.
“We have always maintained that Arvind Kejriwal is working with RSS for a Congress-mukt Bharat. I challenge him to accept or deny whether he was not a part of discussion at Vivekananda International
Foundation that drew the strategy for Narendra Modi’s victory in 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” said Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh.
Singh, who is the party’s in-charge of Goa, also claimed that the AAP’s strategy in the state was only to facilitate the BJP’s return to power in the 2017 polls.
The BJP seems to agree with this contention. “AAP will bring the Congress down and appears to be pushing them (Congress) in that direction with all its vigour. Congress party too is working overtime to fulfill the BJP’s dream of a Congress-mukt Bharat, which was also Mahatma Gandhi’s dream,” senior BJP leader and union minister Nitin Gadkari said.
Wishing the AAP well for the Goa elections, he claimed that the BJP’s victory is certain if the new party campaigns aggressively in the state. “AAP’s entry is good and useful for us. I wish them well because they will help us win,” the former BJP chief said in Goa recently.