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Arvind Kejriwal to lead Aam Aadmi Party’s poll offensive in Modi’s Gujarat

Arvind Kejriwal will visit Gujarat at least once every month, beginning March

india Updated: Feb 27, 2017 23:12 IST
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal at a poll rally in Jalandhar .(PTI File)

Beginning March, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal will visit Gujarat once every month to drum up support for the party in the run-up to the state polls due year-end.

The AAP brass, which held a series of meetings from February 23 and February 25, has decided to focus on the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the party fancies its chances.

Senior party leaders have been assigned the task of building the organisation in Gujarat to present AAP as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress.

A good performance in Gujarat would help the party establish its national credentials ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that Kejriwal is eyeing.

The party’s highest decision-making body, the political affairs committee (PAC), will hold a show of strength in the state capital Gandhinagar on March 26.

“There will be a massive rally which Arvind Kejriwal will address,” a party leader said.

The party had earlier planned a gherao of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani for the alleged failure of the BJP government to deliver on its promises but decided to turn the event into a Kejriwal show.

Apart from state in-charge Gopal Rai, several PAC members will be responsible for building a strong state unit.

Senior leaders Sanjay Singh, Durgesh Pathak, Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan will be camping in the western state. “Immediately after the Punjab results, Singh and Pathak will move to Gujarat and work on a party-building exercise similar to Punjab,” a leader said.

Results for Punjab and four other state elections will be announced on March 11.

AAP leaders would tour Gujarat on March 5 and meet volunteers to explain to them the importance of Gujarat in AAP’s scheme of things, sources said.

The last election in Gujarat, held in December 2012, returned Narendra Modi as the chief minister and was instrumental in the BJP picking him as the prime ministerial candidate.

The BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for 19 years, has seen two CMs after Modi took over as the Prime Minister in May 2014.

The state was in 2015 rocked by protests by the powerful Patidar community, seeking reservation in government jobs and education. The community is vital to BJP’s poll success.

The AAP has been supporting and wooing Hardik Patel, who is spearheading the quota stir.

The AAP planned to contest the Himachal Pradesh election due around the same time as Gujarat but has decided against diverting sources to the hill state. A final decision on Himachal would be taken next month, sources said.

Party strategists believe Gujarat will be a high-stake election for the BJP and Modi on one hand and the Congress on the other that which has suffered a string of defeats in state polls since 2013.


First Published: Feb 27, 2017 09:36 IST

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