With Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh just months away, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has started reaching out to people in the state through ‘poha chaupals’- a programme aimed at holding dialogues over snack. Poha (dish prepared with flattened rice flakes) is a breakfast or tea-time snack popular throughout India, which the AAP has decided to make use of in its political fight. After the first ‘poha chaupal’ held on Friday in Mandsaur, similar programmes will be held in parts of the state and it will culminate next month, an office-bearer of the party said.
Talking about the initiative, AAP’s MP unit convenor Alok Agrawal said, “I came up with the idea of holding ‘poha chaupals’ as the snack is very popular across the state. During the party’s Kisan Bachao Yatra last year, which covered 10,000 kms, we found eateries serving poha everywhere along the roadside.” “It is a common breakfast item easily available, which rich as well as poor relish alike,” he said. Agrawal said the first ‘poha chaupal’ was held in Mandsaur on April 13. “It got a good response. Issues directly affecting the people came up for discussion. We decided to hold the first chaupal in Mandsaur, where seven farmers were killed in police firing on June 6 last year,” he added.
The ‘poha chaupal’ initiative reminds one of the ‘chai pe charcha’ (discussion over tea), a mega outreach programme launched by the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls involving the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Elaborating on the objective of the programme, he said, “Through the chaupals, we want to connect to the people coming from different walks of life, like doctors, teachers, social workers, but most importantly common people.” The ‘poha chaupal’ programme will conclude to end on May 14, he said adding, “After this, we are going to draft our manifesto.”
Elections in MP are due by the end of the year and AAP has decided to field candidates on all the 230 seats in the state. “We will make it a point that only upright and unblemished people are given tickets,” he said. Alleging that farmers are sick of the BJP-led government in the state and want to throw the party out of power, Agrawal expressed confidence that AAP will spring a surpise in the Assembly polls. He said the “BJP has failed on all fronts and the main opposition Congress is not united”.