Can the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) win over the country’s financial capital when its municipal body, the richest in the country, goes to polls in 2017?
The party’s sweeping victory in the Delhi assembly polls has given hope to AAP, which failed to open its innings in the state during the Lok Sabha elections.
Political observers and party insiders believe to script a win in Mumbai, at least half the battle will have to be fought in Delhi. In Mumbai and Maharashtra’s crowded political space — where there are at least four main parties in the contest — AAP may stand a chance, if Kejriwal’s government performs in Delhi and if it elbows its way into the opposition space.
“A lot will depend on how the Kejriwal government performs in Delhi. A good performance and an ability to transform a political movement into a successful government that can deliver will give legitimacy to the party elsewhere, especially in Mumbai,” said B Venkatesh Kumar, political analyst.
The performance of the SenaBJP-run Mumbai civic body for the past two decades is clearly wanting, much like Delhi, and citizens are fed up with the strained infrastructure such as bad roads.
With the Opposition Congress-NCP still struggling, AAP can make inroads by offering a credible opposition.
For this, AAP will have to first start from ground zero, by setting its organisational structure in place, making the party cadre-based.
“We have to start by restructuring and expanding our party’s organisation. We are looking at an approach which starts from ward-level committees up to the state-level committee, instead of the top-down approach. This was lacking during the Lok Sabha polls,” said Anjali Damania, former convener of the party.
“The focus, so far, was on Delhi polls, but we will now start making our voice heard by taking up relevant urban and rural issues. The opposition space is almost vacant and we can occupy it even before we contest any polls. Whether it is anti-corruption, land acquisition or drought, we plan to be vocal about it,” said Meena Karnik, member of the interim state executive party.
The biggest weaknesses for the party are the absence of a strong state leader like Kejriwal and i nter nal f actionalism. The party’s core members in Maharashtra are a strange mix of former socialists, activists, corporate, professional enthusiasts and youth, who are fighting for anti-corruption and public interest.
How this eclectic bunch works together in the next five years and whether they can groom state leaders will decide the party’s future.
“Like Modi, elections can be won in the name of Kejriwal, but grooming state-level leaders is essential if the party wants to grow,” said Kumar.