Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia, while addressing a rally in poll-bound Punjab on Tuesday, urged people to vote for the AAP as if Arvind Kejriwal would be their chief minister. It set tongues wagging: Would Kejriwal desert the post of Delhi chief minister to lead Punjab?
Whatever be the case, it is quite evident that Kejriwal & Co are looking at Punjab as their stepping stone to spread their sphere of influence across the whole country. And the bread-basket state may be the perfect place for the AAP to start its all-India campaign — after its failure to do so with the 2014 General Elections.
Here are five reasons why Punjab is ripe for the AAP's picking on its way to all-India expansion:
1. AAP's previous success in Punjab: The AAP was not all that successful in the 2014 General elections — despite coming fresh off its electoral victory in the Delhi Assembly elections. The party managed to bag only four seats in the whole country, all of which were in Punjab. Sure, Bhagwant Mann has since then been a problem child, but the AAP's influence in Punjab has only grown. The party can now use that influence to emerge a strong political outfit in the state, setting the stage for further expansion.
2. Staggered growth: The AAP has been playing it safe in other states it eyes. While it is looking to tie up with Hardik Patel and his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti in their fight for quota in Gujarat, the AAP will also campaign against the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. These calculated steps show the political outfit's growing maturity, which will only be bolstered if the AAP manages to have a reasonably good outing in Punjab. Here, too, Punjab holds the key, where a good poll performance will ensure the AAP's growth in other states.
3. Queered pitch: The AAP not playing an active part in the UP elections is yet another sign of maturity on the AAP's part, with political observers saying that the party will get a good feel of the state this time, and field candidates the next time, possibly in coalition with some parties. Similar steps in other poll-bound steps will let the AAP mature as a political party, while making it appear as a growing threat to rivals, which should work in its favour.
4. Confidence to fight in bigger states: A good electoral outing in Punjab will give the AAP some much-needed confidence to fight elections in other states. It will also project the party as a strong outfit among the electorate, boosting its chances.
5. Weeding out the non-worthy and building a base: One of the biggest factors that led to the AAP being handed thumping losses all over India in the 2014 General Elections was that it had chosen its candidates in much of a hurry, without the much-needed vetting that usually comes with a Lok Sabha election candidature. Now, by building its supporter base — which has started with Punjab — the AAP can expect to see more electoral success in the Assembly elections, and possibly in the next General Election in 2019.