With an eye on the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat, the Aam Admi Party on Friday launched a 20-day programme aimed at the rural population, especially farmers, across more than 10,000 villages in the Western state.
Called ‘AAP chali gaon ki ore (AAP goes to the villages)’ the outreach will pitch the party as a serious alternative to Gujaratis who will choose their next government in early 2017. “Small teams of AAP volunteers have been asked to fan out to the villages in every Vidhan Sabha constituency. Each team will cover around five to seven villages every day and hold nukkad sabhas (village-level public meetings),” AAP’s Gujarat co-incharge Kapil Dhama told HT.
By the end of the programme, the party hopes to have touched over 10,000 villages spread across the 182 constituencies. Nearly three out of every five Gujaratis live in the villages.
After declaring its national convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s October 16 rally in Surat a success, the party has plunged itself into campaigning for the elections, which are expected to be held shortly after the Punjab and Goa polls -- the other two states where the party is trying to expand its political footprint.
AAP leaders involved in building and designing the party’s campaign in the state said the AAP leadership is hoping to channelise the angst of the Patidars, Dalits and farmers against the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat. The state has seen agitations by the Patidars and Dalits this year. AAP is buoyed by the fact that Kejriwal was able to hold a rally in Surat last month whereas BJP president Amit Shah’s public meeting on September 8 with the Patidar community saw commotion by their leader Hardik Patel’s followers.
Sources said the party’s top leadership is in touch with Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.
“We have a team of researchers now based in different parts of Gujarat who will collect and collate information through November and December to identify people’s issues that will resonate in the coming elections,” an AAP leader said. The village outreach programme will also throw up the list of issues that the central leadership will then fine-tune and prepare the final campaign pitch.
“The BJP went back on its promise to double the minimum support price for cotton leading to severe distress among the farmers, there are wage issues concerning the labourers in diamond and textile industries. We will expose the shortcomings in the Gujarat model in the education and health sectors ,” Gulab Singh, AAP’s in-charge of Gujarat said.