AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is at it again.
AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is at it again. To fish in troubled waters, he is all set to descend on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat on Saturday, and this time he is changing tack. Instead of focusing mainly on caste equations in the state (Patidars and dalits), he will target a larger audience by raising local issues at his proposed Surat rally on Sunday.
However, to prevent Mr Kejriwal making any dent in the saffron citadel, Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani played the nationalist card and described him as a “Pak hero”.
AAP leaders planning the visit indicated that to make the party’s presence felt in Gujarat, it needed to rise above caste equations and reach out to all communities. Mr Kejriwal is expected to blend caste issues with other local concerns by speaking of corruption, unemployment, land acquisition laws, the state of traders and businessmen and the condition of dalits and tribals.
Mr Kejriwal will reach Ahmedabad on Friday evening and remain in Gujarat for the next two days. In the span of around two and a half months, this will be Mr Kejriwal’s third visit to Gujarat. Besides addressing the Surat rally, he is likely to meet businessmen, farmers and other sections of society.
Delhi water minister Kapil Mishra told PTI that the AAP was “providing clean and issue-based politics... and this is the reason people in Gujarat are connecting with us”. Prior to the visit, a poster war has erupted in Gujarat. An organisation called Yuva Azadi Sangathan put up posters asking Mr Kejriwal about his “sudden love for Patel youth who died more than a year ago”, while other posters titled “Heroes of Pakistan” showing the Delhi CM in the company of slain Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, Osama bin Laden and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Saeed have come up in Ahmedabad and Surat. There are posters warning Mr Kejriwal against entering particular areas in Surat.
While the BJP is going all out to counter the AAP chief, saffron leaders both in the state and at the Centre seemed worried about the developments. With a majority of the 45 per cent OBCs and 15 per cent Patidars up in arms against the BJP government, the party finds itself on shaky grounds at this juncture. Trouble mounted for the BJP after the thrashing of dalit youths by cow vigilantes at Una in July this year. Some central BJP leaders felt the replacing of Anandiben Patel with Vijay Rupani as state chief minister had only “worsened the situation”.
With his eyes on the 2017 Assembly polls in Gujarat, Mr Kejirwal will target the Patidar citadel in Mehsana, which incidentally is also the home district of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Kejriwal is also expected hold talks with the dalit and OBC leaderships.
All eyes are thus on Mr Kejriwal’s Surat rally on Sunday. A senior AAP leader told this newspaper that “a lot will depend on the response to the rally”. The AAP has also been accusing the BJP of “planning to disrupt the rally”. It may be recalled that during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP had got only 1.2 per cent of the total valid votes in the state. Claiming the nation was hit by the Modi wave in the 2014 elections, an AAP leader said the situation had now changed and the time had come for the AAP to move into the saffron pocket borough.