AAP National Convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has promised to deliver much post the elections in Uttarakhand (and other states) if elected to power. However, even before that, having remained unmasked during his interaction with close associates and party workers during his visit to Dehradun on Monday, he has ‘given’ them considerable reason to worry by testing Corona positive immediately after. Such concerns apart, the AAP rally in Doon has provided indications about the prospects for the coming elections in Uttarakhand.
All the gimmicks were in operation – the populist approach, the ‘reverence’ for ex-servicemen, the more sincere than others positioning – but the attendance was thin when compared to the earlier rally held by the Congress for Rahul Gandhi. It comprised a large number of those who care little for the politics and have only to do with the ‘immediate’ promises for the day. The social profile of those present was largely that which backs the Congress.
So, if the Aam Aadmi Party does make an impact, it is probably the Congress that has most to worry about, which would be advantage the BJP. As the years have passed, owing to the failures of smaller parties on several fronts – in particular the inability to remain committed to their declared ideologies – Uttarakhand’s politics has become increasingly polarised between the two ‘national’ parties – the BJP and Congress. There has, thus far, been a significant swing vote that has alternatively given the mandate to these parties. On occasion, in some constituencies, strong independent candidates have impacted the result by snatching potential winners’ votes, but generally the trend has been the same across the state. This time around, however, if the AAP emerges as a significant third force, its commonality with the Congress could affect the latter. Its belief, for instance, is that the ex-servicemen largely favour the BJP, but that is not necessarily true. It is only under the present circumstances, with India facing challenges on many fronts, that this category of voter has voted saffron. With these larger concerns in mind, it is unlikely that the ESM will be lured by what are obviously election sops. The AAP’s natural base is the marginalised individual with few if any stakes in the present social and economic dispensation. These have traditionally adhered to the Congress ‘garibi hatao’ pitch. As in Punjab, it is the Congress that needs to worry about the AAP’s inroads.