The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is emerging as a key player in the 2022 Gujarat elections arguably making it a three-corner contest, has realised its copy-paste campaign from Delhi polls won’t work here and has devised a customised agenda for Gujarat.
If in Delhi it emerged more as an urban-centric party speaking of free electricity to the poor, raising issues of unemployment and corruption or promising quality education and healthcare, the party is expanding its reach in Gujarat.
Explains former journalist Isudan Gadhvi, National Joint Secretary, of the AAP, “Delhi and Gujarat are two different places – socially, culturally and geographically. Fighting the elections on the issues that made us win Delhi may not replicate similar results in Gujarat.”
“Our focus is Adivasis, farmers, MSMEs and poor people. We want to work for them for the next five years, be consistent in our efforts and win the next elections,” Gadhvi told Vibes of India. There is also a realisation that the party may make some dent in the urban areas, but since these regions are veritable fiefdom of the BJP the party must look at the vast rural regions where anti-incumbency is palpable.
AAP’s Gujarat members, including State Party President Gopal Italia, have already toured as many as 10,000 villages of the State as of June. Italia told Vibes of India that around 1.23 lakh rural people joined the party through their door-to-door campaign. The party also has a toll-free number, using which 2.5 lakh people joined the party last month, Italia adds.
AAP has the image of being an ‘urban-centric party’ but considering that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a stronghold in cities, AAP is now shifting its gaze to villages. “Rural people are full of rage towards the BJP. The saffron party is pro-rich and therefore, the ones ploughing their fields remain away from the BJP’s radar. We want to woo them,” said Gadhvi.
He went on, “I met an Adivasi family who just had Rs 110 in cash, they didn’t even have security for tomorrow’s meal and we want to cater to them. Over 53 lakh farmers in Gujarat forget the availability of water, their villages don’t even have a dam built in the past 23 years. The sons of these villagers neither get government jobs due to paper leaks nor find brides. Even if all these unmarried men come together, they will lead to the fall of the government.”
Earlier, AAP members hit the ground to woo tribals in Dahod, who were protesting against the Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking project, which the BJP-led government put the project on hold in March 2022. The AAP has also joined hands with Chhotubhai Vasava’s Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) to create their footprint in the tribal belt.
To strengthen its hold on villages, AAP Gujarat has started their next rural awareness and membership campaign in 18,000 villages in the State. “Our success also lies in the fact that now, we don’t have to introduce ourselves in rural pockets of Gujarat. People at least recognize us,” points out a party member.
To fight for rural people and their government jobs, AAP has been repeatedly seen on the roads, raising issues of paper leaks in various government exams. “The government outsources over 8.5 lakh employees and upon it, there are paper leaks. Government nurses have a salary of Rs 22,000 per month on paper but due to the unnecessary interference of private agencies, over 8,500 nurses of Gujarat are not only financially exploited but are also taken undue sexual advantages. We want to fight for them.”
Tacitly admitting that winning the elections and coming to power may be difficult, he says, “Even if we secure a few seats this time, we are ready to give them a tough fight in the next elections. Congress is nowhere to be found and we are the only competition BJP has.”
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is visiting Gujarat on July 3. Every month he will be visiting the State at least four times. National party members Manish Sisodia and Atishi are also to follow, according to Gopal Italia.