AAP to contest local body elections in Gujarat and project itself as the “alternative” to the BJP

Published : January 05, 2021 21:56 IST

AAP leader Atishi at a press conference. (File photo) Photo: Prateek Kumar Photo: Prateek kumar

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not giving up on Gujarat. In spite of its humiliating loss in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly election, the AAP has declared that it will contest all seats in the local body elections in the State, which is expected to be held in February. Making the announcement on January 3, AAP leader Atishi said the party was projecting itself as an “alternative” to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP has won every election in the State for almost two decades, and the juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. Therefore, the AAP’s entry into the political arena even at the local level will be an interesting move in a state that appears to have virtually no opposition.

At a press conference, Atishi said the party would contest the elections on issues of corruption, public health, and education. This will be the first time the AAP is contesting the taluka, Zilla Parishad, Nagar Palika and Mahanagar Palika elections. Releasing its first list of 504 candidates, Atishi said 31 per cent of the contenders were women. She said the Congress and the BJP in the State were “bedfellows”, and therefore the AAP felt confident of winning a substantial number of seats. The AAP leader accused the BJP of politics of “intimidation and allurement”.

A local AAP volunteer based in Ahmedabad said the pandemic has made the climate right for them to make an impression, as the BJP’s corrupt side has been exposed several times. “From the poor health care facilities, exorbitant rates for hospitalisation, not to mention the ventilator scam, people are aware of the party taking advantage of being the majority party,” he said.

Historically, Gujarat has been a two-party State where the Congress and the BJP typically fight out elections between themselves. A few regional parties attempt to contest a few seats but are usually co-opted by the two national players.

The entry of another party in the State would certainly add a new dimension to the political landscape, believe observers. Unfortunately for the AAP, it lost all 29 seats it contested in 2017. Several candidates even lost their deposits. Perhaps, the AAP’s strategy is to start at the lowest rung and climb its way up to the 2022 Assembly election.

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