Several opposition parties, from the Left to the Trinamool Congress, have announced their support for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — in the hope that a defeat for the BJP in the Capital could signal an upswing in their political fortunes.
The AAP hailed the announcement. “We welcome support from every quarter,” party spokesperson Ashish Khetan said.
On Thursday, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC president Mamata Banerjee said in a statement: “My request to all of you in Delhi is to please vote for AAP… for the greater need of the country and development in Delhi.” The TMC, which had fielded candidates in several Delhi Assembly seats in the elections held in December 2013, stayed away from the poll battle this time round.
Incidentally, the TMC had hoped to capitalise on social activist Anna Hazare’s appeal in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. However, that plan failed when Hazare did not turn up for a TMC rally at Ramlila Maidan.
The support to AAP is also in line with Banerjee’s preference for what she calls a “federal front” comprising regional parties. Till now, Banerjee was known to be adverse to the fact that Arvind Kejriwal and his party had tried to use what had always been her political card — simplicity and a “common man” lifestyle.
Party sources said it has been a very deliberate recalibration of stance towards the AAP for Banerjee, based on her own emerging political compulsions. “At present, it is very clear where our priorities should lie. An enemy’s enemy is a friend. The only party which is really giving the BJP a run for its money is the AAP, at least in Delhi. In fact, in all the Assembly elections that have happened since the Modi government came to power, this is the BJP’s toughest battle. Hence the decision to come out and appeal,” said a party insider.
The Left parties, which are contesting 15 of the 70 Assembly seats in the Capital, have also urged people to vote for the AAP in the 55 seats they are not contesting. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Wednesday asked party members and supporters to vote for the AAP in the 55 seats. The Left parties have suffered huge electoral reverses in the last two Lok Sabha elections as well as the West Bengal Assembly elections.
The Janata Parivar has backed the AAP as well. The group’s constituents have fielded a total of only five candidates so that the anti-BJP votes do not get divided. The JD(U) and the Samajwadi Party have fielded two candidates each, while the INLD has fielded just one.
Former prime minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda has appealed to the people to vote for AAP candidates. JD(S) general secretary Danish Ali said, “We are with secular forces which are opposed to the BJP and the Congress and we feel AAP is the only secular force which can inflict a defeat on the BJP in Delhi.” He said the February 7 polls would set the trend for a string of Assembly elections, scheduled to take place in Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh over the next two years. Ali said a defeat for the BJP in the Capital would demolish the current myth that the party is invincible, and strengthen secular forces.
Sources in the JD(U) said that former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar may shortly issue an appeal to people to back AAP candidates. He has already extended his good wishes to Kejriwal publicly.