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With general elections round the corner, the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Maharashtra, is planning to increase its presence and hold in the rural parts of the state. The party has started exploring possibilities of entering into a pre-poll alliance with the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS). Both Anjali Damania, convenor of AAP Maharashtra and Sadabhau Khot leader of SSS confirmed that high-level talks between the parties are going on for a possible alliance. Buoyed by their victory in the New Delhi Assembly elections, AAP has decided to contest both the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state. The party has already started identifying candidates and chalking out the future strategy for the polls. A daunting task before the party is to make its presence felt in the rural areas. In this regard, the party has opened talks with SSS since some time.
Relations between Arvind Kejriwal and the independent MP Raju Shetty of SSS has been good ever since the former travelled to Sangli to be present for Shetty’s rally. Khot said that Kejriwal was asked to hand over the compensation cheques to the family of the slain farmers during last year’s sugarcane agitation. AAP also had espoused the cause of sugarcane farmers in the state along with senior leaders like Damania, Mayank Gandhi and others and had shared dias with the leaders in the last few months also.
On the possible alliance with AAP, Khot said both the parties have same ideologies and so decision-making would be similar. “Our party members are asking us to take a final call on the alliance soon. We will do so during our December 30 annual conference in Pune,” he said. He admitted that the party is also in talks with the BJP Shiv Sena Mahayuti. “We will go with the party who honours us and gives value to our manifesto,” he said. Despite the bonhomie between the parties, senior leaders from both sides say that there are many stumbling blocks on the way. In particular, while SSS has welcomed foreign direct investment (FDI) AAP has opposed it. Also Shetty’s meetings with BJP -Shiv Sena leaders have been looked upon with consternation by AAP.
“AAP would be asking for a final word about the alliance soon. This would help in planning our future course better,” AAP senior leaders said.