Even as the Aam Aadmi Party sees itself the main contender to the ruling BJP in Gujarat, where the Assembly polls are due later this year, some political experts and the Congress feel the AAP will split the opposition votes, benefitting the BJP. The Congress also claimed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP was the “B-team” of the BJP in Gujarat. Elections to the 182-member in Gujarat, which has been ruled by the BJP for over two decades, are due in December this year.
The main opposition Congress has so far not been able to emerge an an alternative to the BJP. Kejriwal, the AAP’s national convener and Delhi chief minister, visited Gujarat four times in the last three months, since his party won the Punjab Assembly polls, while the Congress leadership is not really visible as Rahul Gandhi visited Gujarat just once in the last two months.
The AAP’s state in-charge, Dr Sandeep Pathak, said, “Wherever we fight elections, we do it scientifically. We have done it in other states and we have carried out a scientific survey in Gujarat too. As per our internal survey, we will win 58 seats as on date.” However, political observer Hari Desai said the AAP will “divide the opposition votes”, and this will ultimately benefit the BJP against the Congress. Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi claimed the AAP was the “B-team” of the BJP.
“The BJP now knows it cannot win Gujarat as people have come to know its reality. The BJP is promoting AAP in Gujarat so that the opposition votes can be divided and they (BJP) can win the polls,” he further claimed.
He also said the people of Gujarat have never approved of a “third alternative”, be it the Kisan Mazdoor Lok Paksh (KIMLOP) of Chimanbhai Patel, BJP rebel Shankarsinh Vaghela’s Rashtriya Janta Party (RJP) or Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP). The AAP will also be rejected by the people of Gujarat, Doshi claimed. However, political analyst Dilip Gohil said the “AAP is a party with an alternate agenda”.
In the civic elections in Surat and Gandhinagar and in some other municipalities held in the recent past, the AAP got around 18 to 20 per cent votes, which indicates its support base, he said.
“The AAP has a real chance of emerging as a political force in the Gujarat Assembly elections this year. The AAP has been able to build a tempo in its campaign so far,” Gohil said.
AAP leader Sandeep Pathak, currently the Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, said as per the party’s survey, people of rural Gujarat are of the opinion that the Congress cannot defeat the BJP.
“The Congress voters of rural Gujarat are supporting us. In the same way, the urban lower middle-class and middle-class voters also want a change and are supporting us,” he claimed. AAP state spokesperson Yogesh Jadwani said the opposition Congress has “no vision” for Gujarat.
“The Congress is controlled by five-six leaders, each of them having their groups and fighting among themselves. They also do not allow fresh faces to come up. So, the people will vote for us as the main contender to the BJP in Gujarat,” he claimed.