The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which gained major confidence in February 2015 by bulldozing Narendra Modi's BJP in the Delhi Assembly polls, is now planning to take on the saffron party in its two major bastions: Gujarat and Goa, in the next Assembly election scheduled next year.
The AAP's plan will also make the political equation in these two states interesting since both of them have a bipolar set-up at the moment with the Congress trailing the BJP. [Changing equations in Indian politics: Congress, Left out; BJP, AAP in]
AAP eyes Gujarat---PM Narendra Modi's home state
To speak of Gujarat, the AAP has decided to contest in all 182 seats of the state in the 2017 election. Though a senior AAP spokesperson said the political affairs committee of the party will take the final call on the party's participation, one can not rule out Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal aspiring to take on the Narendra Modi factor in the latter's own state where he was the chief minister for 13 years and his party is in power continuously since 1995. [Kejriwal: From being 'ethically correct' to 'politically correct']
The high rate of urbanisation in Gujarat also makes it an attractive choice for the AAP---a party which has its strength in the cities. If the AAP does well in Punjab and Goa, both of which will go to polls earlier than Gujarat, then its leadership will feel all the more confident to challenge the BJP in the western state.
AAP is working towards strengthening its base in Gujarat
The BJP's facing reverses in the panchayat polls in the state in December last year has also encouraged the AAP. Its entry may, however, hurt the Congress more than the BJP by eating into the former's vote-share and even push it into the third position.
AAP is also targeting to capitalise on Patel agitation factor
The AAP is working hard towards strengthening its presence in both Gujarat's real (read prganisation) and virtual political world (read social media). Besides holding mass contact programmes and targeting the state BJP leadership over high electricty tariffs and land scam, the party is also eyeing the Patel community which is agitated with the post-Modi BJP leadership in the state.
The Patels, who form a sizeable part of the population and has been a big support for the BJP over 20 yeaers now, has been seeking quota for over a year now. The agitation also led to violence on various occasions and the face of the agitation---Hardik Patel, 22---is facing sedition and other charges.
Kejriwal wasted no time to grab the opportunity and throw his weight behind Hardik, asking what was his crime that attracted such serious charges.
Recently, posters of Kejriwal claiming support for him form the Patels were seen in Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot, suggesting that the AAP's efforts are not entirely going waste in a state where it has just started.
Kejriwal is also aiming for a grand entry in Goa---another
In Goa, too, the AAP is attempting a grand entry. The chief minister of the BJP-ruled state, Laxmikant Parsekar, said PM Modi has asked him about a recent public meeting conducted by Kejriwal and the response it received. Although he went on to add that there would be no impact of such meetings in the state, but there is no denying the fact that the BJP top brass could not just wish away the AAP, thanks to the Delhi debacle. [Virendra Tawde will help CBI in 4 cases, including Goa blasts]
Parrikar's exit and anti-incumbency could be BJP's headache in Goa
The AAP has already announced that it would contest in all 40 Assembly seats in the state, another highly urbanised one, and there are also talks of it projecting veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai as its chief ministerial candidate. The BJP will not be very assured since the popular leader---Manohar Parrikar---has now left the state to carry out duties at the Centre.
The BJP leadership is now busy projecting Goa on the world map by means of laying down infrastructure projects like airports and modern hospitals and also preparing for the BRICS Summit to be held there in October.
Tired of BJP and Congress, Goa electorate could now choose a fresh alternative
But the state's oscillation between the BJP and Congress might push its people now choose a fresh alternative in the AAP. Prominent Goan personalities from different fields have backed the AAP. The much talked-about iron ore mining scam in the state during the Congress rule and the BJP's failure in taking action against it after coming to power have made the state consider a new alternative.
The AAP still might not have a robust organisation to challenge either of the two national parties in Goa, but given the small size of the state's electorate, it becomes easier for an organisationally weak party to overcome the loopholes. The AAP is hoping thus to repeat its Delhi feat in Goa.