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AAP wants to contest in Haryana ; Can it change the political matrix of the state

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 26 March 2018, 17:10 IST

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has arrived on the political scene in Haryana. The party has decided to contest all 90 seats in the next Assembly elections there, scheduled to be held a little after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This was announced by Delhi chief minister and AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal at a huge public rally in Hisar Sunday.

It was Kejriwal's first major public outing in the region after the Punjab polls. There the party, after threatening to walk away with the winners' trophy, had to contend with being the main Opposition. In Haryana, AAP does enjoy some advantages. At the same it also has several questions to answer. 

Haryana is the home turf of Kejriwal and some of the ministers and legislators the party has in Delhi. It can make a marked presence particularly in the areas of the National Capital Region (NCR) using a spill over of its Delhi support base.

AAP volunteers have been quietly working on the ground for sometime, which was evident from the response of people in the rally. Party's Haryana chief Naveen Jaihind said it would offer the Delhi model of governance to the people of Haryana: “basic amenities like power and water at cheaper rates, more compensation to families of martyrs, more remuneration and compensation to farmers.”

In fact, the implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission is one of the major promises made by Kejriwal in his speech at the rally held at Old College Ground in Hisar. He said AAP will strive continuously to overthrow the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He accused the BJP of organising riots in the country and said both the Congress and the BJP were responsible for riots between Jats and non Jats. Caste violence continued unabated in the last three years and Manohar Lal Khattar government slept over it, he added.

Holding the central government responsible for a series of bank frauds Kejriwal posed a question to Modi asking when will defaulters like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya be brought back to India. He said the people are worried where to deposit their hard earned money as none of the banks is safe.
Armed with documents Kejriwal told the audience that the Centre has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court saying that it would not implement the Swaminathan Commission report. He took an oath saying that AAP would implement it on coming to power in the state and Haryana would be the first beneficiary.

Kejriwal also attacked the state government on poor health facilities, education facilities and the degrading law-and-order scenario. He said the corrupt practices introduced by the previous government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda have seen a five-time rise in the Khattar regime. He said AAP would soon start a door-to-door campaign in the state.

Delhi's Labour and Employment Minister Gopal Rai, who is also AAP's Haryana in-charge, said the state has made valuable contribution in Delhi's development and Delhi Transport Corporation as well as Delhi Police owe their success to Haryana. 

But questions remain. AAP needs to convince the masses that it is a serious contender and would not back out from contesting it did in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, leaving enthusiastic supporters disappointed. 

The party will have to ensure it does not make the mistakes it made in Punjab where over-ambitious leaders justified the saying of too many cooks spoiling the broth. The party will have to make its presence felt in the heartland of the state to debunk the theory being propagated by several observers that it will just prove to be a force that will cut into the vote share of the existing non BJP parties, the Indian National Lok Dal and the Congress.

With AAP announcing its entry into the poll fray just a little more than a year ahead of the Lok Sabha and Haryana assembly polls it remains to be seen how the political matrix of the state changes in the coming months.

First published: 26 March 2018, 17:10 IST