Every political party wants to enjoy a pan-country presence. No party likes being labelled as a regional satrap. And AAP is no different. After winning the Punjab polls, AAP supporters and workers were talking about spreading their presence into other parts of the country. One of the key states on its agenda is Himachal Pradesh. But it seems that AAP’s journey in the Himalayan state has ended even before it began, as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has suffered a severe jolt. Top AAP leadership in the state of Himachal Pradesh has decided to switch sides and join the BJP instead. Meanwhile, the AAP seems to be making an effort to dismiss the development as irrelevant.
AAP Himachal Pradesh state unit chief joins BJP
In fact, AAP’s Himachal Pradesh state unit chief Anup Kesari has himself shifted to the BJP.
Kesari later accused AAP Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of insulting AAP workers during a party roadshow in Mandi on Wednesday.
Kesari said, “We have been working round the clock with utmost honesty and dedication for AAP for the past eight years in Himachal Pradesh. However, Arvind Kejriwal overlooked the state party workers when he came for a rally and roadshow in Mandi.”
He added, “We are very much disappointed with him. He would not even look at us, who work day and night for the party. Only Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann were the highlights of the roadshow in Mandi.”
AAP downplays the big exit
The AAP seemed to make a concerted attempt to downplay Kesari’s exit. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged that the party had received complaints that Kesari made derogatory remarks against women and that he was going to be expelled anyway.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal too tried to claim that the BJP was terrified. In a Hindi language tweet, he said, “Those in the BJP, if you worked for the people with honesty then you would not be so terrified that you had to change your Chief Minister or induct tainted people from other parties. People trust AAP.”
AAP faces several exits in Himachal Pradesh
But it isn’t as if Kesari is the only one switching sides. AAP’s general secretary (organisation) Satish Thakur and Una district unit chief Iqbal Singh too joined the BJP along with Kesari.
Satish Thakur said, “We felt insulted and ignored during the roadshow on April 6. So, we decided to join BJP to work under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and serve the people of Himachal Pradesh.” Iqbal Singh too echoed a similar sentiment and said, “They ignored and insulted us. Hence, we joined BJP.”
Now, AAP will definitely state that the exits are irrelevant. After all, no party admits that it has been affected by high-profile exits. AAP too was supposed to react similarly.
But the latest exits could mean the beginning of the end for AAP in Himachal Pradesh. The party was making plans to spread its presence following its grand victory in the Punjab Assembly polls. And Himachal Pradesh is one key state where the party is eyeing a good show in the Assembly polls to be held later this year.
This is why the AAP leadership also seemed to be taking an active interest in Himachal Pradesh politics. However, it is the grassroots workers and provincial leadership that catapult a party to victory in Assembly polls and the AAP seems to be facing a leadership vacuum after several high-profile exits.