The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Gujarat intends to cash on the visit of its chief, Arvind Kejriwal to the state, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress here do not see any significant impact of the tour.
Observers said though Kejriwal’s visit might not sway voters in Gujarat, its effect could be felt in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, where the BJP’s vote share might decline. They added Kejriwal’s efforts to demolish the development model showcased by Gujarat chief minister and the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi could have an impact in the metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
During his four-day visit to Gujarat, Kejriwal travelled in Kutch and the northern districts and held meetings with a cross-section of the people. He faced opposition from BJP workers in parts of the state and was briefly detained on the first day of his visit.
The AAP leader took on the Modi government over the issue of small and medium enterprises shutting, corruption, unemployment, the state’s weak health and education infrastructure and farmer suicides.
“Kejriwal’s visit has been a morale booster for our party members. People are calling from different districts and sharing their grievances with us,” said AAP member Anirudh Jadeja. The party was planning a response mechanism to address issues being raised by the people, he added.
“At the national level, there could be some impact because of the way Kejriwal demolished notions of development in Gujarat,” said political observer Achyut Yagnik. The AAP effect could benefit the Congress in states like Punjab and Haryana, where the difference in vote share was very thin in the last general elections, he added.
“The AAP would need to mobilise people, raise and consolidate local issues and be articulate in their approach,” said Ghanshyam Shah, another political analyst. “There may not be a significant impact on the BJP, but Kejriwal’s visit has certainly made the party nervous. The AAP may eat into the BJPs share of votes, but it is unclear if they can convert it into seats,” he added.
Shah pointed out the issues raised by Kejriwal had been raised often by human rights and social groups. “Earlier, when the Congress said the same things, the people did not take them seriously. But now when Kejriwal says it, there will definitely be an impact,” he said.
The Gujarat BJP, however, refuted all of Kejriwal’s allegations. “The AAP basically has an NGO (non-government organisation) culture and it will have no impact on Modi’s campaign. Kejriwal is like the B-team, or proxy, of the Congress, which is being unleashed against the BJP,” party spokesperson Harshad Patel said.
Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “The questions raised by Kejriwal on Gujarat’s development model will only benefit us as they support and substantiate our claims.”