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Aam Aadmi Party’s Gujarat dilemma unresolved, PAC to decide

After the electoral hammering in Punjab and Goa, the Aam Aadmi Party finds itself in a dilemma over contesting the Gujarat assembly polls.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2017 16:35 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aam Admi Party,Gujarat assembly polls,Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party faces a tough task in the Gujarat assembly elections. The party is still undecided whether to contest the elections or not.(HT PHOTO)

The Aam Aadmi Party’s top leadership is in a Catch-22 situation over Gujarat.

A bad performance in the upcoming assembly elections would dent its image nationally, but withdrawing from the race entirely would mean further erosion of its volunteer base in India and support from overseas, which began dwindling after the defeat in Punjab and Goa polls.

Unable to decide on how many seats to contest in Gujarat, the party leadership has referred the decision to its highest decision making body, the Political Affairs Committee, state in charge Gopal Rai said. “The PAC will take the final call. No date has been fixed for the meeting.”

Rai was among the party leaders who met national convener Arvind Kejriwal on June 7 to take a final decision. But the four-hour long meeting remained inconclusive.

“There are sharp divisions in the party over whether to contest the election or not and if yes, how many seats to fight on. The differences remain after the meeting,” a senior leader who was present at the meeting, said.

An internal report submitted by the state unit to Kejriwal says that it may not be a strong contender in more than a handful of seats, sources in AAP Gujarat told HT.

Read more: AAP set to shelve grand Gujarat poll plan, redraw national strategy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state – where the Bharatiya Janata Party has ruled since 1998 – goes to the polls late this year. AAP had announced grand plans in 2016 to put up a fight in all 182 seats. It wanted to emerge as a national alternative to the BJP by 2019 by performing well in Gujarat but the plan itself was contingent upon a stellar performance in Punjab and winning seats in Goa. On both counts, AAP fell short and saw party volunteers leaving even in Delhi that the party has considered its citadel since it bagged 67 of the 70 assembly seats in 2015.

“The central leadership does not want to be seen as losing in the state and is ready to give up on the Gujarat project to consolidate its position in Delhi and Punjab. A loss in Gujarat will lower the morale elsewhere. The big states for us next are Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” a senior leader said.

Sources said Kejriwal is keen on contesting seats where the party is strong. A top leader in the state, however, said, “If you choose a few seats, how will we convince the volunteers on other seats who have been working equally hard?”

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 10:32 IST