Delhi 2020

AAP debates expanding footprint

Aam Admi Party supporters celebrate the party's landslide victory in Delhi elections, in Mumbai on Tuesday. Photo: Vivek Bendre   | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

Soon after the Aam Aadmi Party swept to a historic victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, senior party leaders debated whether the party should focus on consolidating itself in Delhi or adopt an “expansionist” strategy to gain strength across the nation.

The victory has raised the question of whether the AAP can emerge as the principal opposition party to the Bharatiya Janata Party nationally. AAP leader Yogendra Yadav previously argued that the AAP would like to position itself that way and take on the BJP.

Many others in the party, however, feel it should first focus on governance in Delhi. Since its disappointing showing in the Lok Sabha elections, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and a majority of the party’s cadre spent a lot of time rebuilding support in Delhi, covering almost every neighbourhood.

“The mandate that we have got is because of our strong focus toward local issues that made people connect with us. The first priority should be to repay that faith,” a senior AAP leader said. “While it is important that we ultimately emerge as a strong national party, there is no immediate plan to launch a national campaign against the BJP or [Prime Minister Narendra] Mr. Modi.”

In the immediate term, expansion is a tricky proposition for the AAP. The party is yet to take a call on seriously contest the Bihar Assembly elections later this year, though an announcement is expected soon. In 2016, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and Puducherry go to the polls. Senior leaders concede that the party does not yet have a convincing base in these States. “As we learnt from the Lok Sabha elections, organisational structures cannot be built up in a matter of months, though this result will help in mobilising more people,” a senior party member says.

The Punjab Assembly elections in 2017 seem to represent the most obvious chance of bringing another State under its leadership. Thought the AAP recently decided not to contest the upcoming civic polls on February 22 since most of its workers were involved in the Delhi campaign, the party has proven that it is a force to reckon with in the State, securing 24 per cent of the votes and winning four seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

The SAD-BJP ruling combine faces a anti-incumbency disadvantage over corruption charges and the drug menace that runs through most of the State. The Congress has been divided by infighting between PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 4:03:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/delhi-assembly/aap-debates-expanding-footprint/article6879835.ece

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