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  India   BJP strategists start to worry about Arvind Kejriwal

BJP strategists start to worry about Arvind Kejriwal

Published : Jul 3, 2016, 6:40 am IST
Updated : Jul 3, 2016, 6:40 am IST

It’s not Nitish Kumar, nor the Congress. Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal is emerging as the BJP’s enemy number one.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: PTI)
 Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: PTI)

It’s not Nitish Kumar, nor the Congress. Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal is emerging as the BJP’s enemy number one. AAP’s rapid growth in BJP-ruled states has begun to worry saffron strategists who are now working on a plan to “discredit” and “halt” the AAP juggernaut from making inroads into saffron zones.

The AAP has not merely surged ahead in Punjab but is giving the ruling party nightmares in Goa and Gujarat. Mr Kejriwal will visit Gujarat after the monsoon to hold public rallies. The recent spurt in the Centre’s activities against the AAP is being viewed as its attempt to confine Mr Kejriwal to Delhi. The RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, has also been consistently targeting Mr Kejriwal, describing him as a “dramatic chief minister” and accusing him of turning the AAP into a “Maoist outfit”.

What’s worrying the BJP is rapid incursions by the AAP into vote banks acquired by the saffron party during the Lok Sabha polls. BJP strategists observed that if the AAP is “not halted”, it could deliver a body blow to the BJP in various states during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A senior BJP functionary said, “What’s worrying is that AAP is attracting youth, middle class and the poor. This had been our vote bank during the Lok Sabha polls and we are losing it to AAP in urbanised areas.” Moreover, if the BJP has the RSS swayamsevaks to work for the party, AAP volunteers have launched a massive door-to-door drive in Punjab, Gujarat and Goa.

In Punjab, the AAP has so far successfully tapped farmers, youth and the marginalised sections, including dalits. AAP volunteers are working round the clock at the booth level. The dalits, who account for nearly 33 percent of the vote share in Punjab, are the AAP’s prime target. What surprised the BJP and the Akalis in Punjab was that the AAP was also getting major support from NRIs. Also, beating the Akalis at their own game, Mr Kejriwal has borrowed the slogan “Raj Karega Khalsa” to play the panthic card. To consolidate the dalit vote bank in Punjab, AAP volunteers have spread out in regions like Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Kapurthala. The dalits, traditional BSP supporters in these regions, are shifting to the AAP.

In Goa, the AAP volunteers are planning a “Goem Samvad (Goa Dialogue)” to involve people in the forming of their manifesto. The agenda of the dialogue will be clean governance. Goa has 30 per cent Christians, 10 per cent Muslims and the rest Hindus. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who was viewed as an “efficient administrator” during his tenure as Goa chief minister, had managed to consolidate both the Hindu and Christian vote banks in the BJP’s favour. After he moved to the Centre, the Christians apparently began moving away from the BJP to the AAP. Also, like Delhi, Goa has a high literacy rate and does not vote on the basis of caste and religion. “Goans vote for development. After Parrikarji’s departure, the game is open and the AAP is trying to take advantage of the situation,” a BJP functionary said.

In Gujarat, the AAP has been eyeing the restive and influential Patidar community. Mr Kejriwal, during his proposed post-monsoon visit to Gujarat, also intends to visit the Somnath temple. He is planning to meet farmers and traders and hold rallies. “We cannot take him lightly anymore,” a BJP leader observed.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi