Indicating a renewed focus on the party’s fortunes in Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal has decided to station himself in the national capital until April 10, the date when the city votes. This despite the fact that parts of western Uttar Pradesh and all the parliamentary seats in Haryana go to polls on April 10. While party leaders admitted that nationally, Kejriwal was their biggest crowdpuller, they said the decision for Kejriwal to campaign in Delhi in the run-up to the elections was made to “consolidate the support in Delhi”.
Exactly a month ago, Kejriwal had set out on his national campaign with a three-day roadshow through Uttar Pradesh, aimed at gauging the mood outside Delhi, which culminated in a rally in Kanpur where the stage for a clash against Narendra Modi was first set. In March, there were forays into Haryana, as well as visits to Gujarat, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Leaders from the AAP, however, said that with their impressive 28-seat haul in the Delhi Assembly elections largely due to Kejriwal’s projection as chief minister, the need was felt for him to stay in Delhi. “Delhi is clearly where we are strongest. While we have gone national in a big way, we are most likely to win seats in Delhi, where we have built our presence over the past year and a half,” a party leader said.
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Despite perceived gains from the AAP’s 49 days in power in Delhi, party leaders admitted that the need was felt for Kejriwal himself to campaign extensively in Delhi. “While we are confident of competing in all the seats, and winning several seats, the other parties will also be more aware of our threat. Kejriwal, as Delhi’s former Chief Minister, is our biggest crowdpuller and people come to listen to him,” a party leader said.
While Kejriwal began his round of campaigning in Chandni Chowk on Monday, Tuesday saw him campaign for AAP candidate in West Delhi for Jarnail Singh. “He will campaign in all seven parliamentary constituencies, attending jansabhas and holding roadshows. The plan is that he will stay in Delhi till April 10 when the city goes to polls and then visit Punjab, after which he will go to Varanasi and spend most of his time there. A week will be set aside for a visit to Amethi as well,” a leader said.