KEEPING alive its ambitions despite a string of electoral losses, the AAP, after a core party meeting recently, has decided to contest the Rajasthan Assembly polls slated at end of 2018. The party, which has been conducting ground surveys to understand the political atmosphere in the region, is planning to leverage on the “existing rift in the Congress state unit in Rajasthan and anti-incumbency wave against the Vasundhara Raje government”.
“There is palpable anger among voters against the Raje government for failing to deliver on its promises and not making efforts to address issues such as attacks on Dalits and minorities. The Congress, which could have been a promising alternative, too does not have its house in order,” a senior AAP leader, working closely with the Rajasthan state unit, told The Indian Express. After former chief minister Ashok Gehlot was moved out to Gujarat earlier this month as the state in-charge ahead of the Assembly polls, making way for Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot to take full charge, there has been a dissent in the party, claimed the AAP leader.
The senior party functionary said that even after Pilot was appointed as state unit chief, a month later, the party was decimated in the 200-seat assembly in December 2013. Last year, the AAP had appointed Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, the state in-charge for Rajasthan, but with the party leadership busy with electioneering in Punjab and Goa, and Delhi government work taking a hit, the party decided to retain Sisodia in the Capital. The position was recently handed over to senior leader Kumar Vishwas as an olive branch after a section of the party sought a larger role for the poet-turned-politician. Vishwas has since not assumed charge and not visited Rajasthan, drawing flak from the volunteers in the state.
Following its rout in Punjab and Goa, and a ‘below expectation’ performance in the Delhi municipal polls, the AAP had decided to focus its attention on governance in the Capital. A section of the party has been insistent on shelving its national expansion plans. But while AAP has put its Gujarat plans on hold, it is still gearing up for Rajasthan. “As for Gujarat later this year and Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh end of next year, a final call is yet to be taken. The state units are at work and are strengthening its organisational base but whether the party will eventually contest the polls is a call that will be taken in the coming weeks,” said a senior party functionary.