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AAP’s Ambitions

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Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia of the Aam Aadmi Party (when it will it drop the patriarchy and become ‘Aam Vyakti Party?) was on a personal visit to Uttarakhand, which was utilised for political purposes, also. In interactions with the media and party activists, he declared the party will contest on all the seats in the coming state elections. As an incentive to voters, he promised the utopian mix of freebies that is projected as having transformed Delhi – free electricity, water, wonderful government schools and mohalla clinics, etc. He expressed confidence that the party would do well, maybe even form the government.

Will there be any takers for AAP in Uttarakhand’s bipolar politics? AAP does well on the back of resentful politics – picking up votes among sections of society that find it easy to blame others for their woes. In Delhi, it has also managed to wean away Muslim voters from the Congress, which has provided a big boost. In the Punjab, where also it has made an impact in certain parts, it has attracted the more extreme elements that have been disappointed with the traditional parties. Will it find commonality with the Uttarakhandi voters on such issues, particularly as it lacks a local leadership with roots in the community?

It may be recalled that, over the years, parties like the UKD and BSP, which commanded areas of influence, have been decimated due to poor strategy and short-term opportunism. Instead of pursuing their political objectives, they were happy to extend support to the ruling party and, in the process, frittered away their votebank. Would these disillusioned sections try their luck with AAP?

The average Uttarakhand voter adheres to middle class values, even if he or she may not be entirely in that income bracket. These people are aspirational, not just content with what ‘entitled socialism’ would provide. As witnessed in the previous elections, this has brought the voter closer to the BJP world-view. At a time when the BJP will be seeking to retain its dominance in the assembly, the AAP – if it makes any impact – is likely only to take away voters of the Congress. As such, whatever the AAP leaders might claim, the BJP may not be so adverse to this ‘third force’ entering the fray.