MP: AAP to Contest all 230 Seats, Promise Clean Politics and Freebies
Bhopal: Upbeat with the results of the Punjab and Gujarat elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staring at the Madhya Pradesh polls due in November this year.
With no state leadership and political structure in the state, the AAP has announced to contest all 230 assembly seats in the state. The party dissolved the state unit two months ago in a bid to revamp it.
Projecting AAP as a viable option against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress just like in Delhi and Punjab, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal along with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday told party workers, “We promise you clean and corruption-free politics where people would get free electricity, quality education, health and jobs.”
Addressing a rally of over 7,000 workers at Bhopal's BHEL Dussehra Maidan, Kejriwal said, since Independence, Congress ruled Madhya Pradesh for 45 years and the BJP for almost 30 years. Yet, people are fed up. “AAP is a viable option for both the parties who fooled you. Give me a chance and I will bring change in the lives of your children," he appealed to the workers to knock on every door and spread the message of the party.
Highlighting the party's flagship pro-public policies in Delhi and Punjab, he said, “Delhi government provided over 12 lakh jobs, made health services under Rs 50 lakh free of cost and developed infrastructure of government schools at par with private ones. Similarly, in Punjab, the party has given 26,000 jobs in just one year and opened 500 Mohalla Clinics, electricity-free for 87 % of the consumers and others. We will replicate this module in Madhya Pradesh as well."
In the 2022 Gujarat polls, AAP opened its account winning five seats and getting a vote share of nearly 13% of the total votes polled. Similarly, the party came to power in Punjab in the second attempt.
Like the latest announcement, AAP contested the 2018 Assembly polls but got only 0.66 % votes and 207 candidates out of 208 contesting, lost their deposit. The party’s chief ministerial candidate, social activist Alok Agrawal polled just 1,654 votes and was contesting from the Bhopal South-West constituency. Only Rani Agrawal in Singrauli had secured respectable votes.
But the party's performance in 2022 civic body polls sharply surged to 6.30 %. In 2022 Panchayat and Urban body polls in which the party had fielded 1,500 candidates, won a mayoral seat in Singrauli and 51 councillors- majorly in the Vidhya and Gwalior regions of the state. Rani Aggrawal who secured the third position in 2018 from the Singrauli assembly seat won Singrauli mayoral seat with a margin of over 9,100 votes.
In Tuesday's rally, Kejriwal and Mann’s early indication states that the party is not only serious about the state but also did not forge an alliance with any party. This may cause trouble for the BJP – which is facing a huge anti-incumbency of two decades and the Congress, which is desperately trying to make a comeback.
Kejriwal who spoke for around 25 minutes pointed out that winning of Singrauli mayoral seat was just a trailer, and the AAP will show a real picture after winning assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh.
“People of Madhya Pradesh wanted to say goodbye to ‘mama’ (CM Shivraj) and they had done it in 2018, but the Congress MLAs were sold and BJP was back in power again. It means, even if you vote for Congress, the BJP will form the government. It is only AAP which can change this corrupt political system of Madhya Pradesh,” Kejriwal added.
Taking a jibe over the BJP and the Congress, he said, “In Madhya Pradesh, a party goes around carrying the MLAs in a pushcart, quoting their prices and another party grabs the opportunity to buy them at a discount. They have made the system and democracy a marketplace," he said.
He was referring to the desertion of 22 Congress MLAs from the party in March 2020, leading to the fall of the short-lived Kamal Nath government.
"People are frustrated. It hardly matters whether people voted for Congress or the BJP. only Mama (Chouhan) will form the government. But their game is over. The AAP will sweep the upcoming Assembly elections in MP," he claimed.
Defending the senior party leader Manish Sisodiya and Satendra Jain who are languishing behind bars over corruption charges, he said, “two of our best ministers were framed in cases and sent to jail because they were working to bring change in the lives of marginalised class."
Referring to the "Vyapam scam"- related to admissions to medical colleges and recruitment in government jobs that surfaced in Madhya Pradesh in 2013, and a scam in nutrition scheme for children that came to light in 2022, said, “PM Modi who claimed zero tolerance against corruption put two of our best ministers; Manish Sisodiya and Satendra Jain, in jail who transformed school education and health in Delhi. But the accused of the Vyapam Scam, in which over 45 people were killed, is scot-free.”
"The philosophy of the BJP is that you are not supposed to do corruption if you belong to the Opposition, but corruption is justified if you do it after joining the BJP," he said.
Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Maan who spoke for over 20 minutes in the rally, pointed out, “Bade saab (PM Modi) is afraid of AAP, the way the party performed in Gujarat, like challenging a tiger in its den and the way people supported us.., then he hatched a conspiracy to frame our minister in corruption charges."
Kejriwal, criticising PM Modi, asserted that he believed a country's Prime Minister needed to be educated. “Manish was jailed instead of being appointed as the nation's education minister, which would have happened if the country's prime minister had any education at all, “ he said.
“If the PM is less educated, he will agree to suggestions like getting people to beat plates to shoo COVID-19 away. The entire country did this, but did COVID-19 go away? That's why it is very important for the Prime Minister of the country to be educated. If the PM is not educated, then anyone will fool him to do demonetisation to end corruption or terrorism. Has corruption-terrorism ended? The educated PM will know about the economy, technology, and science,” Kejriwal said.
AAP claims that many sitting MLAs of the BJP and the Congress in the state are looking at AAP as an option to contest assembly elections in 2023.
AAP in MP
Sensing an opportunity in a bipolar state, the AAP leadership is expanding its footprint in Madhya Pradesh. The party is projecting itself as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress. The vote bank of Congress and AAP is almost the same, so the party can make inroads into the vote bank of Congress.
This was evident in the 2022 urban body elections. The party wrested the mayor's post from the BJP by registering its first victory in the Singrauli Municipal Corporation. Therefore, people opted for AAP over Congress as an alternative. This may have an impact on the five assembly seats nearby.
According to political experts, due to AAP's entry into the state, 51 seats of Congress are being affected. There are 26 seats in this, where Congress was able to win in 2018 by less than 7,000 votes. There are signs of a breach in the vote bank of Congress in 10 urban seats of the Gwalior-Chambal division. One reason for this is that the traditional voters of Congress in the state are Muslim, SC and ST sections.
Requesting anonymity, a senior party leader said, “Riding on civic poll results, the party has projected to secure 15-20 % votes in the state to emerge as a viable option for both the national parties. The party is also focusing on those seats which are ignored by both the parties and backwards."
Besides, the party will focus on those candidates who are popular in the constituency but did not get a fair chance in the polls owing to their relations with the party leadership. "Such candidates fought as independent candidates or on BSP or SP's ticket and secured respectable votes. The party has planned to bring those candidates with clean image in the party fold and give them an opportunity."
Referring to Gujarat, he said, "The party secured 13% votes and won five seats. On 55 seats, AAP was the second runner giving a tough fight to the BJP and the Congress. If the party secured 15-20 % votes, it will help to expand its footprint and emerge as a third option in the next polls."
When asked about the declaration of the party's state unit, he said, "The party may announce the state unit by March end."
(With Inputs from PTI)
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