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Ambitious Entry

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Arvind Kejriwal’s second-in-command Manish Sisodiya has been making exploratory forays into Uttarakhand, trying to skirmish with the BJP’s forces in an attempt to discover a chink in its armour. He tried to lure the ruling party into his chosen battlefield on more than one occasion, but faced disappointment. He is gone for now, having managed to steal some headlines, but has promised to return. On its part, the BJP has promised to take him on his own turf – Delhi!

Considering that AAP has no electoral standing in Uttarakhand – not in the assembly, the municipalities, the district or village panchayats – Sisodiya’s challenge was like some unknown player challenging Roger Federer to a tennis match. One needs to qualify to be able to do that! Minister Madan Kaushik’s promise to debate him was, obviously, a lapse in judgement that has been corrected by the party.

Analysts have begun to assume that AAP will replace the UKD as the outlier in the state’s politics, which is not saying much even if it is true. Perhaps it is because the two parties appeal to the same kind of voter – the perennial protestors that are unable to transition to mainstream politics. It took a long time for AAP to become accustomed to power – its first term in Delhi only saw the leadership engage in all kinds of street level drama. Its frustration is understandable, as Delhi’s state government has as much power as a glorified municipal corporation. The Chief Minister is not even top dog in an area that has the entire national leadership present. Only of late has it decided to go with its narrative on schools, mohalla clinics, etc., which it believes has struck a chord with the electorate.

But running a full-fledged state is altogether another cup of tea. Sisodiya has promised to bring a chief ministerial candidate that will outshine all others in Uttarakhand – a Trojan Horse that will gain them entry. He believes, perhaps, that the present incumbent has little going for him. Obviously, he needs some education in the intricacies of the state’s politics. Former CM Harish Rawat, who has spent a lifetime working it out, could enlighten him on that! But, even the Congress is not worried about AAP’s impact too much – at least in the context of the next assembly elections. AAP’s freebie culture is unlikely to make an impact in a state where solutions don’t come easy. But, of course, it is welcome to try!