The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has upped the ante in Gujarat's political landscape, announcing Umesh Makwana, MLA from Botad, as its candidate for the Bhavnagar Lok Sabha seat in the upcoming 2024 elections. This comes hot on the heels of naming Chaitar Vasava, MLA from Dediapada, as the party's contender for the Bharuch seat, further solidifying its presence in the state.
However, the latest announcement throws a curveball at the much-touted INDIA bloc – a proposed partnership between Congress, AAP and regional parties like the NCP and Samajwadi Party – as seat-sharing discussions remain unresolved.
Gujarat AAP in-charge Sandip Pathak announced both candidates at a press conference, expressing hope that the "INDIA" bloc will accept these choices and work together for electoral success. "We aim to win both seats through hard work," he declared, hinting at a possible solo run if seat-sharing negotiations fail.
This move comes after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Vasava's candidature in January, marking AAP's official entry into the Gujarat Lok Sabha race. Makwana, a young leader with a strong grassroots presence, is expected to give the BJP a tough fight in Bhavnagar, traditionally considered a saffron stronghold.
The BJP, currently holding all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, has remained silent on AAP's announcements. However, political analysts believe the saffron party cannot dismiss AAP's rising popularity, particularly after its stunning victory in Punjab last year.
The "INDIA" alliance, envisioned as a counterforce to the BJP, has been in discussion for months. However, disagreements over seat-sharing, particularly in Gujarat, have stalled progress. With AAP announcing candidates unilaterally, questions arise about the future of the alliance.