AAP to showcase 'Delhi model' in Haryana in its bid to expand in the state
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has started flexing its muscles in Haryana, keeping in mind the Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls that are to be held back to back next year. It has announced its decision to contest all the ten Lok Sabha and 90 assembly seats while selling its Delhi model of governance to the people of the state. But the moot question is whether it has the capacity to take on the well-established Congress, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state where it is just a new kid on the block.
AAP's Haryana in-charge Navin Jaihind has announced a “Haryana Jodo Abhiyan' from 10 June aiming to enroll one lakh workers within the next two months. He has made no bones about taking the Delhi government's report card to the people of Haryana and placing it against the performance of the traditional political forces who have been in power in the state.
“The people of Haryana should ask these political parties that if results of government schools in Delhi are better than private schools, why children enrolled in Haryana's government schools fare badly ? If the Delhi government can provide good healthcare in its Mohalla Clinics and government hospitals free of cost what stopped these parties from doing so in Haryana over the last 52 years when the state was created ? If Delhi government can give power at Rs 2 per unit why has Haryana been charging Rs 8 per unit?” he has questioned.
The party has also been attacking the central government under BJP on not delivering on its poll promises of 2014, particularly on issues pertaining to the farmers that are going to form the core of the political narrative in the days to come in this primarily rural state.
Observers point out that having formed the government in Delhi and done well in Punjab during the 'Modi wave' of 2014 which was followed with the party having almost made it in the state assembly polls, AAP is bound by many reasons to expand its base in Haryana, a state that lies sandwiched between Delhi and Punjab. The party has a window of opportunity here that help its expansion plans.
Reports point to the two visits by AAP's national convener Arvind Kejriwal to the state in the last couple of month that were marked by impressive rallies and roadshows. There is a noise about AAP's Rajya Sabha member and former Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh being asked to play a greater role in Haryana.
AAP had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on all the ten seats and some of its candidates were well known faces like Yogendra Yadav and Navin Jaihind. But the party had fared miserably. Now with people like Yadav having left the party, it is facing a crisis of leadership where it needs popular leaders with a mass base.
“In Punjab there were people like Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, Bhagwant Mann etc. ahead of the 2014 polls while there were those like Sukhpal Khaira and HS Phoolka available ahead of the state Assembly polls. Such a scenario is not there in Haryana,” pointed a political observer.
“Yet it is a sort of political compulsion to contest the polls. AAP gained nothing by contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and refraining from the Assembly contest except for having saved some money. The people who constitute a party's support base just get scattered and go with other parties when their own party does not contest. In addition to this Kejriwal himself is a son of the soil. A large number of his MLAs and ministers also have roots in Haryana,” he added.
Besides AAP's new Rajya Sabha MPs ND Gupta and Sushil Gupta also have their roots in Bhiwani and Jind respectively. They can play a role in propping up the party in the state. Interestingly, Jaihind, Kejriwal, ND Gupta and Sushil Gupta are all Baniyas from Haryana. If AAP expands in this section, it will directly eat into the vote bank of the BJP.
Observers further point out that even at this point of time AAP remains a late starter in the race for Haryana as all the other three parties have been off the starting block for quite sometime having carried out at least one round of public outreach.
“The party stands a chance in making its presence felt in areas around Delhi where it has the advantage of the spill over impact of governance in the national capital. With a fluid political situation being witnessed in the state right now who knows that it might get to play the king maker even with six to eight seats if it manages to win them. It might become the power of the fringe that can dictate the formation of the next government in the state,” said another political observer.
In a recent interview to The Tribune, Kejriwal has pointed, “AAP has evolved from a social movement. Haryana has a political vacuum of credible parties. The ruling BJP government in Haryana has been fanning communal and casteist sentiments. People have also seen the INLD and the Congress. Unlike the much-hyped ‘Gujarat model’ slogan of the BJP, we invite people to compare Delhi’s three-tier public health and improved transportation system. Power rates in Delhi are the cheapest in the country. Haryana is among the states with most expensive electricity rates.”
It is being pointed that the Delhi unit of the party will have to put its entire weight behind the party's Haryana leadership in terms of man power and other resources if positive results are to be derived from the state. It is a race against time for AAP but there is an opportunity on hands available