Gujarat Election
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‘AAP Has Created Panic in Rank And File of Gujarat BJP’

Gujarat Election

Basant Rawat, a senior and independent journalist in Ahmedabad, explains what makes Aam Aadmi Party a serious challenger to the well-entrenched BJP in Gujarat

The prospect of AAP in the assembly elections in Gujarat is bright. Amidst all-around despondency, AAP has come to symbolise hope in this ‘hopeless state’ — also known as the Hindutva laboratory of India. The BJP has ruled the state for nearly three decades now. However, it is no longer invincible, or, unstoppable, thanks to the steady rise of AAP. It seems to be a kind of ‘new liberation movement’ – a liberal, democratic movement, symbolising common people’s aspirations, amounting to a peaceful uprising against the hegemony of the BJP.

Even if the BJP manages to emerge as the single largest party, it might not be able to form the government with the distinct possibility of a hung assembly looming large. In the home state of Narendra Modi, AAP has created panic in the rank-and-file of a jittery BJP. Armed with its unique killer instinct, AAP is positioning itself as a winner. Until recently, both Congress and BJP dismissed it as a non-existent force. No more. The reason: both parties seem to have realised its aggressive and lethal power.

The way AAP conducts its poll campaign — it is a sheer delight. It has thrown its rival’s political calculations out of gear, emerging as the new centre of political gravity, occupying the mind space of every discerning person, dislodging Modi from that position, who, until recently, continued to mesmerise gullible Gujarati supporters – largely, not known for rational, critical thinking.

ALSO READ: ‘AAP Is Trying To Beat BJP At Its Own Game’

Now, Modi has a challenger in his home turf in Arvind Kejriwal who is asking tough questions, grilling him on his brand of politics every time he visits Gujarat. Visibly, BJP appears to be on the back-foot. This has never happened in the past so early in the campaign.

As for the theory that AAP is working as a ‘B-Team’ of BJP, and will cut into Congress votes, I would say, yes and no. This ‘B-Team’ description is unfounded and meaningless. The ‘BJP moles’ in AAP have already switched sides and have rejoined the BJP. Everybody in Gujarat knows who they were and where they are today.

AAP is a new political creature, still unfolding. The RSS-BJP might have tacitly nurtured it, penetrated it, and backed it in the Anna Hazare movement, but, now, it has become a Frankenstein for them — hence the BJP is scared.

What is disconcerting for the BJP is its ‘populist brand of politics’ – it has become such a tricky situation for the BJP that it does not know how to deal with it!  AAP has converted the campaign into ‘poor versus rich’ — Modi representing the rich and AAP as the underdog.

AAP seems an amalgam of progressive, liberal ideology – a ‘welfarist’ party inclined towards the poor and middle class — an inclusive party. For some reason, in Gujarat, everybody can relate to it and identify with its core belief, which is different from that of Congress and BJP. Undoubtedly, AAP will damage both Congress and BJP. In the eventuality of a hung assembly, it seems that AAP will not align with BJP. It may go with the Congress if such a situation arises.

Free electricity is AAP’s magical poll plank which has worked. The unique style of its campaign and the offer of ‘revdi’ (freebies), have created ripples. It is not for nothing that the BJP has pushed the panic button. Small-scale entrepreneurs/traders etc, deeply unhappy with the new tax regime (GST), reeling under the terrible impact of demonetisation – seem to have made up their minds, to go with AAP, and get rid of what Kejriwal calls the ‘raid raj’. Small-scale entrepreneurs have been thronging Kejriwal’s ‘town hall’ meetings. AAP is being seen by the poor, contractual workers and employees of the Gujarat government, as the only sign of hope; it seems they want to try Kejriwal this time around. This means it has already created a committed vote bank. Surely, the BJP has every reason to be worried.

It is true, that despite the solid work they have done in education, health, electricity and water, etc, in Delhi, AAP also speaks the BJP language, seeking to usurp its constituency. It’s regressive position on the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and the military clampdown, its dubious position on the peaceful Shaheen Bagh protests, its overt inaction on the sinister communal violence unleashed during the Delhi riots, its silence on the imprisonment of political prisoners, including excellent scholars from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, AMU, etc, have cast a shadow over its ‘welfarist ideology’. However, I still believe that it is not an abjectly communal party. Call it sheer pragmatism and opportunism — but AAP thinks it can defeat BJP on its ‘own’ Hindutva pitch. The AAP leadership in Gujarat is young, educated, and bubbling with energy. They know how to outplay BJP in its own game. It is the only party which can speak its language and defeat it.

As told to Amit Sengupta

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Anil sharma
Anil sharma
1 year ago

As per article, Gujarati,s are not known for their rational and critical thinking, unlike Bongs who choose bloodbath regimes from past 40 years 🙂

Nilesh Shah
Nilesh Shah
1 year ago
Reply to  Anil sharma

The only ‘regime’ that has organized pogroms in Gujarat and Delhi is the one headed by that monster elected by Gujaratis. Gujaratis are the only people who actively engaged in the killings, with plenty of smileys

Deven
Deven
1 year ago

Greatest wonderful article

Raincloud
Raincloud
1 year ago

Consider Shaheen bagh, JNU, Jamia , East Delhi as tactical silence.
Kejriwal is smart enough not be bogged down in unnecessary controversies. To BJP’s advantage.
He has learnt that the only way to defeat communal forces is through ballot button.
Kejriwal will prove Modi’s nemesis not only in Gujarat but through the Hindi belt.

Bhanu Pratap
Bhanu Pratap
1 year ago

Waste of time article. Doesn’t hold ground with reality of people

Sriram
Sriram
1 year ago

Well said. The AAP is making a mark this time, and it will provide a clear cut choice to the voter, away from the kill-Muslims single agenda of one party, and Gandhi-family-is-the-best agenda of the Congress.

Anil sharma
Anil sharma
1 year ago
Reply to  Sriram

When should i come back to this article again, to have a sound laugh on all the buffoons having wet dreams here 🙂

Shrikant
Shrikant
1 year ago

BJP if pushed to back foot it is expert in managing at booth level similar to mamta in Bengal, so it is not easy for AAP

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