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National party, national ambitions: AAP arrives at centre stage

Gujarat is a BJP bastion where we have succeeded in finding a chink, CM Kejriwal said.

Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal during his televised address over the results of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assemblies on 8/12/22, Thursday. (Image: Screengrab-AAP YouTube channel)

A year after it won 28 seats in its maiden election in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party decided to go national, fielding candidates from 432 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats. While it managed to win four seats in Punjab, party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s national ambitions were called misplaced, especially keeping in mind that the party was formed less than two years ago.

On Thursday, with voters in Gujarat giving AAP almost 13% of the vote share, and a likely five seats, Kejriwal is set to become the head of a national party, the ninth in the country.

In a video address on Thursday, Kejriwal thanked the people of Gujarat for making AAP a national party.

“People of Gujarat have made AAP a national party today. This is a very big thing. There are only a handful of national parties in the country. AAP was formed a mere 10 years ago. It is a young party. Today, that party has formed a government in two states. When people hear this, they are amazed. I would like to thank the people of Gujarat. The love, respect and trust I got from you has indebted me to you for life… Gujarat is a BJP bastion. We have succeeded in finding a chink. So many of you trusted us in our maiden assembly selection there. Next time, perhaps, we will win,” he said.


In AAP’s case, to be recognised as a national party, it needed to be recognised in four states.

That condition is fulfilled if it has at least a 6% vote share and two MLAs in four states. In Gujarat, winning four seats (and leading in one) and getting a 13% vote share has taken the party past that mark.

The other states where it is recognised are Delhi, Punjab and Goa.

According to senior party leaders, they always knew that winning in Gujarat was a tall ask, but the party fought strongly on all fronts to make sure it secured at least a 6% vote share. It even diverted attention from the Delhi municipal polls, hoping that the work done by its Delhi government in the past eight years would help it pass the halfway mark.

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“In Gujarat, where BJP has been in power for decades, we always knew the fight would be extremely tight. While every election we contest is to win, we also fought to become a national party. The 6% vote share and two seats was a goal always in our sights,” said a senior party leader.

A national party has the right to a reserved symbol for its candidates contesting from across the country. The party is also entitled to land or a building for its national headquarters.

Candidates from national parties need only one proposer to file nominations as opposed to two for others. They also get dedicated broadcast slots on Doordarshan and All India Radio during the general elections.

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“It is not the benefit that AAP was particularly after. But the fact is that being recognised as a national party only 10 years after being formed is a clear indication that we are here to stay. Opposition leaders have called us one-trick ponies, they have called us a party that can only win in Delhi. We have proved them wrong. Our national ambition is not hidden from anyone. We are in electoral politics to change how things are run and we have forced other parties to fight elections based on narratives set by us — those of education, health and work,” another AAP leader said.

In Thursday’s address, Kejriwal too spoke about the change they have brought about in politics.

“We ran a positive campaign. We showcased our model of development as it exists in Delhi and Punjab. This is what makes us different from other parties. Till now, this country saw elections being contested on caste, violence and religion-based politics. For the first time, a party spoke about issues of people, making the country number 1, bijli-paani-sadak,” he said.

Addressing AAP workers in Gujarat, Kejriwal said, “We are honest people, we have integrity and we have to maintain it… I congratulate all party workers who worked so hard. Rest for a little while, but after that, get back to work. Elections will come and go, but we are in politics to serve people. That service should not stop.

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“Serve your communities and your village even if you don’t get votes. If you work, votes will come. But don’t work just for votes,” he said.

First published on: 08-12-2022 at 18:38 IST
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