The new kid on the political block, the Aam Aadmi Party, is in no mood to let the country’s politics follow the conventional route in the election year and its key strategist, Yogendra Yadav on Saturday hinted that his party would give a new dimension to the Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi battle. Yadav said it is his dream to see Arvind Kejriwal as Prime Minister.
"The so-called battle between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi is unfortunate for the country and it needs a new alternative."
After the stunning impact of AAP winning 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, AAP offices are coming up in big cities and small towns. Its main offices in Delhi are struggling to keep pace with the funds and filled-up membership forms they are receiving online.
Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand appear to be high on AAP’s radar for the coming general election, with party leaders being enthused by the encouraging feedback from many other states. Those coming forward to join the party or seek tickets for the coming elections are mostly educated youth, but the poor and those with well-off jobs are keen to join or contribute to the new party.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal leaves after the party's National Executive meeting in New Delhi. PTI
Mohammad Sattar, 47, a slum dweller in Lucknow, recently became a party member. "I remember Arvind Kejriwal’s words when he said that we need a system where a sweeper’s children can dream of becoming a doctor or engineer and not a sweeper. These words were enough for me to join AAP."
Former CEO of Star TV, Sameer Nair, who had joined AAP in Mumbai before the Delhi elections, said, "The party has a progressive ideology and by virtue of its anti-corruption stance, it is pro-business."
Top banker Meera Sanyal has also formally joined the party and is willing to contest on its ticket from the South Mumbai seat, if the party wants. Many others like her are likely to follow suit, said senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan. AAP now has 20 offices in Mumbai and 45,000 members and an office in every district of Maharashtra, where it claims to have a total membership of more than 100,000.
In Haryana, where the party has high hopes, it has a unit in every district and educated youth are joining its ranks. The party’s Karnal district secretary, 32-year old Sandeep Saini, an MBA, quit his Walmart job in London and returned to the country during Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in 2011.
In Uttar Pradesh, the party claims a membership of 200,000, with 40,000 in Lucknow alone. In neighbouring Uttarakhand, AAP plans to contest all five Lok Sabha seats. In the south, the AAP’s Karnataka unit has sent an extremely positive feedback, with membership having touched 75,000 and it has picked up during the last three weeks.
With HT State Correspondents