Ever since Mamata Banerjee won the West Bengal assembly elections in May last year, she had been tooting her horn as the next big thing in the Indian political landscape. Her confidence was so high that Mamata charted upon a whirlwind tour of the country to stake her claim as the alternative to Congress. With the BJP wave, propelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi refusing to die down, Mamata sought this as the ideal opportunity to take Congress out of the equation.
However, the disappointing results to come out of Goa yesterday suggest that Mamata may have overplayed her hand. TMC could not open its account, despite six months of excess PR exercise in the state. Safe to say, TMCs national ambitions have been dealt a cruel blow and we may have heard the last of TMC supremo for a long time.
While TMC nurses its wounds, it is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is projecting itself as the next big alternative to Congress. After all, the Arvind Kejriwal led party won the state of Punjab with a thumping majority. In the process, Aam Aadmi Party decimated Congress and pushed Akali Dal as well as BJP to the fringes.
AAP emulates BJP, immediately focuses attention on Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh
Thus, Aam Aadmi Party has positioned itself as the only regional party in the country to have absolute majority governments in two states, Delhi, and Punjab, that is to say. Copying BJP’s style of running an election-winning machine, AAP has immediately focused its attention on the upcoming poll-bound states after emerging victorious in the assembly polls.
AAP leader Akshay Marathe, in an interview after the results, remarked that his party was preparing for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat election, “Yes, we are definitely going to Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. These are two states on our radar and the party has been sending party workers to these states and we will definitely have a big impact. For decades people of India have had to decide between two parties who did not work for them. For the first time, they are seeing an alternative to both, and people want change,”
AAP contested municipality polls in Gujarat
Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat go to elections later this year and Aam Aadmi Party is looking to emulate its winning formula of Punjab and Delhi in these two states as well. In Gujarat, AAP has been campaigning around for a year or two and both Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann are slated to visit the state later this month to gauge the election preparedness.
AAP has even contested in the municipal elections in Surat and Gandhinagar and witnessed an even-stevens performance. While the performance was timid in Gandhinagar as the party only managed to win one seat, it had its ambitions sky high after winning 27 seats in the Surat municipality. As a result, the party is being hyped up by political analysts as a viable alternative to Congress and BJP.
Himachal could be Delhi-Punjab 2.0 for AAP
As for Himachal Pradesh, the state is not dissimilar to Punjab. A significant chunk of the population comprises Punjabi, Sikh, and Jats. The cultural and linguistic similarity added with AAP’s red-hot form could be a dangerous combination.
Then there is Arvind Kejriwal’s freebie style politics which appears to have worked like a charm in Punjab. It can be said with utmost certainty that Kejriwal is going to prize open his populist bag of tricks on the Himachalis and Gujaratis to woo them as well.
દિલ્હી અને પંજાબ બાદ
હવે ગુજરાત માંગે "આપ" pic.twitter.com/9bhR0oYo4w
— AAP Gujarat । Mission2022 (@AAPGujarat) March 10, 2022
With elections nearing, AAP may also be able to land a few defectors who will cross the party lines, aspiring to gain more power, if AAP does manage to win the lottery. The defectors usually weaken the party but on an off chance, a party can get lucky with the likes of Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Beyond the short-term future, if one considers a longer time frame, AAP can easily go on and make a decent political ground for itself in Delhi’s neighbouring state of Haryana. AAP has set up its anchor in a state like Punjab and is taking the arduous road of staying on the ground 24/7 to build public goodwill.
One may detest AAP’s political line and its closeness to the hardline Khalistani cause but it is a fact that the party is making rapid strides on the national map. None of the regional parties like TMC, DMK, TRS or AIADMK has blossomed outside their home state. However, AAP is changing the narrative and if the Punjab elections are any indication, Congress may have to tighten the screws, come December, or otherwise it may get obliterated if it hasn’t already.