Buoyed by its landslide victory in Delhi Assembly polls, the much-deflated and until now undecided AAP Maharashtra has now set its sights on the upcoming BMC polls due in 2017.
The party has decided to immediately roll out its campaign with its two-pronged approach of fighting corruption and promoting social audit in all civic wards in the city.
“After Tuesday’s results, there is no need to wait any more. We are ready to enter BMC and we are hoping that Arvind Kejriwal will deliver what is expected of him over the next two years in time for the civic elections in Mumbai,” said Mayank Jain, secretary of AAP’s Mumbai unit. He added that the campaign in the run-up to the civic polls would be centered around the agenda of zero corruption and 100 per cent swaraj. “We will start social audit of the various works undertaken by all 24 civic wards. This would involve visiting every ward office, 11drawing up a list of works awarded such as roads or water pipelines and then monitoring the quality and progress on ground. In case it is found to be sub-standard, we will involve citizens and demand that the BMC not release funds to contractors unless they deliver,” said Jain.
Senior party leader Anjali Damania said that municipal elections across the state would be the party’s next milestone. “It could be the Navi Mumbai civic elections, which is slated a few months down the line. Everything depends on the funds we are able to garner as whatever we had, we sent it all to Delhi,” said Damania.
Of the total Rs 18 crore that was raised for AAP’s Delhi campaign, Maharashtra and Karnataka were the highest contributors, with the former alone responsible for sending Rs 3- 4 crore. The party is now toying with the idea of getting each of its members to raise money through crowd-funding.
“About 1200 volunteers from Maharashtra were in Delhi to help with the fund-raising, communication strategy, social media and door-to-door campaign. After the overwhelming mandate, our focus over the next 12 to 18 months will be to demonstrate an effective governance model in Delhi,” said party leader Preeti Sharma Menon.
Kejriwal’s resignation in Delhi had hit the party hard in Maharashtra. Despite contesting from all 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state May 2014, AAP polled in merely 2.2 per cent of the total votes. As a result, the party leadership decided not to contest a single seat during the September 2014 Assembly elections, leading to discontent among many in its ranks, who believed that the party’s electoral chances in Maharashtra were being sacrificed for rebuilding its fortunes in Delhi.
Just two months ago, while announcing the reconstitution of its State Executive Committee, national AAP leaders said that any decision on contesting the BMC polls would be taken post-Delhi results.
AAP’s National Convener Mayank Gandhi said the Delhi victory had re-energized party volunteers in the state. “Our intention behind fighting elections is to change the system and for that we need to come to power. After Delhi, our prospect in the BMC polls seem brighter. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance-ruled BMC is known to be steeped in corruption and that is the plank we will pin them down on,” Gandhi said, adding that the party’s immediate concern was organization building through its Mission Vistaar programme in the state.