Why is AAP better placed in Gujarat than in Himachal? : Newsdrum
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has so far failed to make any mark in Himachal Pradesh compared to Gujarat where it is getting a lot of traction.
Both states will go to the polls in November-December this year.
In fact, Himachal Pradesh should have been an easy catchment area for AAP after their landslide victory in neighboring Punjab.
And it started on an encouraging note after the Punjab results were released on March 10.
Initially, the response to the joint gatherings of AAP official and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart, Bhagwant Mann, was overwhelming. A large number of people from other parties also joined the AAP.
But that quickly faded.
Start-up issues on the governance front led to a shock defeat for the AAP in the Sangrur by-election within 100 days of winning a landmark term at the hands of pro-Khalistan ideologue Simranjit Singh Mann.
It was a personal setback for Mann in his stronghold as he left the seat after his victory in the Dhuri assembly constituency.
The ripple effects of that loss have been felt in Himachal Pradesh, where competition has been bipolar between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress for decades.
The AAP also lost the plot after the arrest of its Delhi minister Satyendra Jain who ruled Himachal Pradesh. Until he was there, the AAP appeared to be well on its way to becoming the third force in the hill state. The BJP and Congress have been visibly shaken.
But that was a few weeks ago and the struggle remains between the two national parties. State politics from 1977 to 2017 was largely dominated by three leaders – Virbhadra Singh, Shanta Kumar and PK Dhumal.
The party had also failed to gain a foothold in another hill state, Uttarakhand, where assembly elections were held earlier this year along with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.
Like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh’s AAP also lacked a credible face. In fact, its main ministerial candidate in Uttarakhand, Colonel Ajay Kothiyal, joined the BJP soon after the elections.
Now take Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the AAP has at least some structure in place in that state. The party presents itself as a credible alternative to the BJP which has ruled the state for 27 consecutive years. Congress was unable to oust the BJP and it nearly regained power in the 2017 parliamentary election when it won 77 seats and limited the ruling party to less than 100.
The AAP received a major boost in the February 2021 municipal elections in Surat where it won 27 of the total 120 seats, with Congress drawing a blank.
Unlike Himachal Pradesh, AAP has big names in its stable. These include Gopal Italia, Kishor Desai, Manoj Sorathiya, Kailash Gadhvi, Isudan Gadhvi and Indranil Rajguru. The party also named about 7,000 new officials in the state’s 33 districts.
The AAP is banking on 27 years of BJP anti-incumbency and systematic weakening of Congress to put on a good show in Gujarat.
For now, this seems like a difficult question, but much depends on the AAP’s electoral management, its campaign strategy and how it organizes itself in the run-up to assembly elections.