Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal

Lucknow: Seeking to expand its base in India’s most politically significant state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced to contest upcoming Zila Panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The local body elections will help the AAP to test its mettle in the Assembly elections slated for early 2022.

Interestingly, the party has planned to use corruption as a chief plank to make inroads in the BJP-led state. It had used the same issues to win Delhi polls for the first time.

Vaibhav Maheshwari, the party spokesperson in UP, says, “Beginning with the Zila Panchayat polls, we wish to strengthen our network ahead of the next Assembly elections. Apart from corruption, unemployment of youth, farmers issues, power bills, women’s security would be our focus areas.”

The party workers and leaders have started networking across the state. Protests are being held around core issues. Public meetings are held to gather youngsters and women behind them.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s interest in Uttar Pradesh speaks of a larger political story. He has shown his growing ambition since he retained power in the national capital with a second consecutive win in the Assembly elections.

Plans were put on hold following the Delhi riots and then the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, as the restrictions eased out gradually, his close aide and UP-in-charge Sanjay Singh (Member of Parliament) started regularly camping in the state.

AAP's foray in UP is being pushed through the typical AAP style of confrontation, wild allegations, and use of media and social media.

Singh, who belongs to Sultanpur, has been taking on the Yogi Adityanath government directly. He had raised the issue of alleged casteism and corruption in corona kit purchase.

In the short span, Singh has been able to create space for AAP. The Yogi government was forced to set-up an SIT to probe corruption in corona-kits purchases. However, Singh has been slapped with multiple FIRs for his “casteism” plank.

To get any significant foothold in the state with 403 assembly seats and 80 Lok Sabha seats is a mammoth task though.

Three main opposition parties--Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samajwadi Party--have hardly left any political space.

Earlier, AAP had failed to make inroads in Haryana. It had even lost its influence in Punjab by losing three of the four LS seats in the state in the 2019 general elections.

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Free Press Journal