After its remarkable debut in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has begun turning its attention to Haryana.
At a meeting of the Haryana State executive committee held last weekend in Delhi, the party was clear that the Robert Vadra-DLF land deal and other “dubious land transactions” that have been in the news for more than a year will dominate its campaign. With this in mind, some party leaders from the State have begun to talk of co-opting the IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who is being charge-sheeted for cancelling a land deal mutation between Mr. Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and DLF Universal last year.
However, as Mr. Khemka himself has declined a comment on the matter, senior AAP leaders also say that whether the party should make a formal offer to Mr. Khemka has not been discussed yet on party forums. But since the Vadra-DLF issue was first brought to notice by the AAP, this and other matters of irregularities in land acquisitions, release of land from acquisitions and change of land use will take centre stage.
Speaking to The Hindu, party spokesperson Rajeev Godara said that after the Delhi elections, the party is receiving an enthusiastic response from volunteers at the grassroots and social organisations. So, ‘sammelans’ are being organised in every district, along with a membership drive, to “capture the energy generated from the Delhi election results,” he said.
With two top leaders, Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, both native of Haryana, the party is conscious that it will have to use different strategies in the State, given that the electorate, composed largely of farmers, is not so savvy on the social media as Delhi voters.
Though the AAP has still not decided whether the focus of its plans for the State will be the Lok Sabha elections or the Assembly elections, both of which are due next year, but it appears that at least in Haryana, the party will contest all 90 Assembly seats. Mr. Yadav will visit Sirsa on December 27 for the district sammelan. The sammelan in Yamuna Nagar will be held on December 29.
Mr. Godara claimed that the biggest problem the AAP will highlight in the State is politicisation of government recruitment, which he said caused insecurity among the people, forcing them to depend on one or the other party for jobs, contracts and other favours. “We are quite overwhelmed by the enthusiasm among people for our party in Haryana after the Delhi elections, and it is a challenge for us to channelise this response for the interests of the people,” he said.
Among the first to suggest that the Congress join hands with the AAP to form a government in Delhi was Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, whose government has been at the receiving end of several exposes made by the AAP. For the established parties such as the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal, led by Om Prakash Chautala, and the BJP, all of which have been on the back foot for different reasons, the possibility of their workers migrating to the AAP is the imminent challenge.