Using platforms such as email, SMS, WhatsApp groups and voice mail, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is seeking public opinion on who the people of Gujarat want as their next Chief Minister. The party has circulated contact telephone numbers and email IDs across the State, urging people to cast a vote on anyone, not necessarily an AAP candidate, who they believe should occupy the top seat.
The AAP had used the same “Choose your Chief Minister” strategy during its Punjab Assembly election campaign earlier this year. Party leaders in Gujarat have been publicising the fact that Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was chosen by the people.
Speaking to Frontline about the campaign, Manoj Sarothiya, AAP’s general secretary in Gujarat, said: “We announced this two days ago and the response has been overwhelming. If we find a name that does not belong to the BJP, the Congress, or the AAP, we have approached that person to join us.”
Unwilling to reveal popular names, Sarothiya said: “We want to impress on the people of Gujarat that we want to use democratic ways to ensure good governance. Lokshahi (democracy) will be in good shape if we do this.”
Sarothiya also said that the State had been ruled by the BJP for close to three decades and that the people had not experienced such transparency from a political party. Through this novel campaign the AAP hopes to convince the people that it is serious about public-focused policies.
While touring Gujarat, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister and the AAP’s national convenor, told mediapersons that once the vote is in, the party will announce its chief ministerial candidate on November 4, 2022. The schedule for the Gujarat Assembly election is expected on November 2. With the election looming large, Kejriwal has been aggressively campaigning in the southern regions of the State, where the AAP expects to win a few seats.
At several public meetings, he spoke about the BJP changing Chief Ministers without providing the State with any explanation. He said that the AAP had followed the wishes of the public in Punjab and would do the same in Gujarat.