After Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party (AAP) now hopes to make a political beginning in Mr. Kejriwal’s home State of Haryana.
Elections here are due next year, but the AAP’s Mission Buniyaad — that aims to set up party units in 337 districts of the country in the first phase — has already covered all the 18 districts of Haryana, and is moving systematically to make its presence felt here.
A meeting of the State working committee is to be held at the Jat Dharamshala in Jind on February 24. The meet is preliminary to stepping up party activities and is expected to flag issues at the State and district level, which the fledgling party hopes to take up in the coming months.
Party chief Mr. Kejriwal is also attending a Bhartiya Kissan Union rally in Pipli as the chief guest, on February 28, where among other issues, implementation of the recommendations made by the Swaminathan Committee for farmers, transparency in land acquisition and enhancement of minimum wages for farming labour will be discussed. This will be his first major public appearance in Haryana after forming the AAP.
Speaking to The Hindu, party spokesman Rajeev Godara said, “We are in the process of identifying issues that our party would like to contest on. Preliminary discussions with our workers have thrown up falling standards of education, problems of farmers, land acquisition and women empowerment as some of those that will figure in our agenda.”
Earlier on February 9, Mr. Kejriwal addressed party workers at Karnal when they had gathered to elect the State working committee members. Both Mr. Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, the other party stalwart, are from Haryana. During the 2011 by-election to the Hisar Lok Sabha seat, Mr. Kejriwal and other members of Team Anna addressed meetings opposing the Congress candidate. They were at that time a non-political outfit, claiming to fight for systemic changes, and came in for considerable criticism for dabbling in politics. While Mr. Kejriwal belongs to Siwani in Bhiwani district, Mr. Yadav is from Rewari.
Haryana presently has three major political groups — the ruling Congress, the Opposition Indian National Lok Dal and a new alliance forged between the Haryana Janhit Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress is into its second tenure.
“Since the old political formulations have a nucleus of core vote banks, we are looking to win over those segments who exist outside of them, but are forced to vote for them due lack of a suitable alternative,” said Mr. Godara.
There has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks with a series of meetings being held at various levels to finalise the organisational structure, which at the lowest level comprises 10 member committees in every village. It has also been decided that five seats for women will be reserved in the 25-member State-level working committee. In Haryana, though, they are yet to find suitable women for these posts. Only 14 members have been elected, so far, for the State committee.
A large number of young people have been turning up for the AAP’s district and block meetings. The party is not averse to taking in ‘suitable’ persons from other parties who are compatible with the AAP’s core ideology.