Buoyed by his party’s huge victory in Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal is betting big on Gujarat as he arrived in Ahmedabad on Friday night on a two-day visit with newly-elected Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for a roadshow fashioned as a “Tiranga Yatra.”
Many Ahmedabadis were zapped to receive a phone call to hear Arvind Kejriwal’s voice in Gujarati urging people, their friends and families to join the Tiranga Yatra on Saturday afternoon.
The 1.5 km roadshow of the two chief ministers has been strategically planned to kick off from the Khodiyar Temple in Ahmedabad’s Patidar and labour-dominated eastern suburb of Nikol. The Tiranga Yatra begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
It is no coincidence that only recently the BJP organised an event to pay homage to martyrs at the same temple. Similarly, a roadshow of key Leuva Patidar leader and chairman of the Saurashtra-based Khodaldham Temple Trust Naresh Patel, who is being wooed by BJP, Congress and AAP, was also held here. The AAP believes that Naresh Patel, who has given indications of joining politics, may join it.
Kejriwal and Mann would also visit the famous Swaminarayan Temple in the Shahibaug area and Sabarmati Ashram during their two-day visits. They will also hold meetings with AAP leaders, Gujarat in-charge Gulab Singh Yadav, State president Gopal Italiya and Isudan Gadhvi on Sunday and take stock of the party’s preparations for the December State Assembly elections. Both the chief ministers would fly out to Delhi on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat unit of the AAP has written a letter to Ahmedabad Police Commissioner Sanjay Srivastava with a copy to Gujarat Director-General of Police Ashish Bhatia to ensure elaborate security for Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann. Citing the attack on the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence on Thursday, the letter in Gujarati states that, “We have information and we fear that the BJP’s goons are planning an attack on the leaders during their visit to Ahmedabad. You are requested to kindly ensure that they receive adequate security cover against these goons.”
The AAP, which has often been described as a B-Team of the BJP by the Congress, sees an opportunity in Gujarat after it emerged as the only opposition party in the Surat Municipal Corporation during the local body elections in February 2o21. They picked up 27 seats against the BJP’s 93 in the 120-member SMC Board, while the Congress scored a zero.
Similarly, though it had campaigned for only a month during the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation elections later, the AAP managed to get 21% of the vote share. As a result, the BJP came to power at GMC for the first time.
The AAP is now brimming with confidence after the spectacular Punjab victory. And Arvind Kejriwal, who had never been included among the non-BJP leaders planning a joint opposition front against the Narendra Modi Government, will have to be given space there.
Analysts say that Kejriwal could arguably be more important than even West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, given that AAP now rules two states while the TMC has failed in the Northeast and Goa. Banerjee has only one state.
While the Congress party has yet not been able to rustle up a single public agitation over any issue so far, the AAP exposed the head clerks’ exam paper leak scam, and forced the State Government to cancel the exam and launch an investigation. Not only this, the AAP workers had recently stormed the Gujarat BJP headquarters, Sri Kamalam, in Gandhinagar though many of them were later arrested and kept behind bars for over a week. It was unprecedented that any opposition party could barge into the Gujarat BJP office.