Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP may seal first Gujarat alliance with Chhotu Vasava’s BTP

Published on Apr 05, 2022 01:00 AM IST

BTP chief Chhotu Vasava said his party has decided to form an alliance with AAP, not just for Gujarat but the entire country

Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia confirmed that the AAP was in discussions with Chottu Vasava to seal an alliance with the BTP
Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia confirmed that the AAP was in discussions with Chottu Vasava to seal an alliance with the BTP

Ahmedabad: The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in talks with tribal leader Chhotu Vasava’s Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) for an alliance for the Gujarat assembly elections expected in December, people aware of the development said.

Chhotu Vasava said his party has decided to join hands with AAP. “People are fed up with both BJP and the Congress. We have decided to form an alliance with AAP. We will soon visit Delhi to hold a meeting on how to take this alliance further,” Vasava told HT over the phone.

He said that the alliance will not only be for Gujarat but at a national level keeping in view the interests of the tribal community. The BTP has two MLAs each in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia also confirmed that the discussions to seal an alliance with the BTP are on. An alliance with BTP will help AAP to speed up the pace of its outreach to tribals who make up 16-17% of the state’s population. Vasava has a strong presence in Gujarat’s tribal belt.

AAP leaders have been talking about going big in Gujarat ever since Arvind Kejriwal’s party emerged as the lead opposition party in the Surat municipal elections in February last year. On Monday, AAP strategist Sandeep Pathak claimed the party will make a big impact and cited an internal survey which, he said, indicated an AAP win on 55-60 seats if Gujarat assembly elections were held today.

Also Read: Will the AAP be a new force in the Gujarat assembly elections

In the 2017 assembly elections, the Congress won 77 of the state’s 182 seats, its best performance in more than two decades. The BJP won 99 seats but picked up more seats over the next few years.

A former JD(U) leader, Chhotu Vasava helped ensure the August 2017 re-election of the late Ahmed Patel, a key strategist for the Congress party, to the Rajya Sabha when he was leading a faction of the Sharad Yadav-led Janata Dal (United). Soon after, he floated the BTP with his son Mahesh Vasava, ahead of the 2017 state elections, and entered into a seat-sharing arrangement with Congress. He won from the Jhagadia constituency in Bharuch and his son from Dediapada in the Narmada district.

Of the 27 reserved seats for scheduled tribes in Gujarat, BTP bagged two, the Congress won 15, one went to an independent and the remaining 11 went to the BJP.

BTP went on to contest in Rajasthan state assembly elections in 2018 where it won two by raising issues of implementation of tribal rights. In 2019, Vasava parted ways with the Congress and fielded candidates in Lok Sabha seats by fielding tribal candidates in about five states including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra. It only won two of the 11 seats contested in south Rajasthan’s Dungarpur district.

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