Out of luck in urban zones, AAP hopes to build rural voter base across India
The plan to woo rural voters was spurred by the party’s encouraging performance in interior regions of agriculture-dominated Punjab in the February assembly elections, and its relatively steep slide in the Delhi municipal elections last month.india Updated: Jul 11, 2017 17:30 IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may have urban roots, but it has now decided to back farmer agitations and reach out to rural people across the country to expand its base for future elections.
In an annual meeting chaired by national convenor Arvind Kejriwal last Sunday, the AAP national executive (NE) – the party’s second-highest decision-making body – decided to launch nationwide protests over agrarian distress from June 10. The plan to woo rural voters was spurred by its encouraging performance in interior regions of agriculture-dominated Punjab in the February assembly elections, and its relatively steep slide in the Delhi municipal elections last month.
The NE had assembled to discuss the party’s future roadmap in the backdrop of its poor performance in the Delhi municipal polls, where it won a measly 48 of 270 seats in three corporations, and the Goa assembly elections, where it drew a perfect zero.
The party had hoped to form the government in Punjab, but it ended up winning just 22 of 117 seats in alliance with the Lok Insaaf Party. Most of these were rural constituencies.
“We are encouraged by our experience in Punjab,” AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta told Hindustan Times. “Our target is to create a farmers’ movement wherever state governments are insensitive to their plight.”
“The NE passed a resolution that the government should be made to waive off farmers’ debt, just as it waives off loans for corporate houses,” party leader Sanjay Singh said. The party will join the ongoing farmers’ agitations in Maharashtra, and then start one in Punjab to highlight the 60 alleged suicides that have occurred there since Amarinder Singh took over.
The party’s Madhya Pradesh unit had initiated similar protests last month. Future agitations in the state will prominently feature the alleged killing of three farmers by police in Mandsaur district on Tuesday.
Gupta identified AAP’s focus areas as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The three states will go to the polls only in late 2018, giving the party enough time for organisation-building activities.
While AAP has taken a number of steps to regain lost support in Delhi, its leaders also believe that focusing on rural areas will prepare party cadres for the long haul. It has toned down social media campaigns in favour of building the party from “booth-level upwards”, on the lines of its organisational structure in the Capital.