Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party made a modest entry into Rajasthan today with a “Tiranga rally” in the heart of Jaipur’s Walled City. Mr Kejriwal’s message was arch.
“Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje are good friends… Give the common man a chance too,” said the Delhi Chief Minister, pitching for a third option in the state that has so far witnessed only binary politics.
Rajasthan has a revolving door system where the incumbent is voted out every five years.
Going by tradition, it should be the turn of the BJP in the assembly elections due later this year. But the party is witnessing infighting of sorts, with former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje trying to get the Central leaders pitch her as the Chief Ministerial candidate again.
While Ms Raje is the party’s tallest leader in Rajasthan, she is not on the same page with the Central leaders and the party strategist Amit Shah on many issues. A number of leaders – state BJP chief Satish Poonia, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekawat and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla — meanwhile, wait in the wings to play the lead part. Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is being seen as the latest addition to this list.
The differences in the BJP, though, is not as keenly watched as the rift in the Congress, where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former Deputy Sachin Pilot are constantly and publicly at odds.
Amid the disarray in both parties, AAP is planning to contest all 200 seats in the assembly election due at the end of the year.
“In the Congress, Gehlot is fighting Sachin (Pilot). In the BJP, they are all against Vasundhara (Raje). So the Aam Aadmi Party can occupy the political space in between,” said an AAP worker who had come from Shergarh in Jodhpur district.
“We are going to pitch AAP’s successful health and education agenda in Rajasthan as well and we hope that will catch the fancy of the young voters,” said another party worker from Chittorgarh.
While AAP has only about 4 lakh-plus members in Rajasthan, the party is hoping to do well in districts like Hanumangarh, Ganganagar, Bikaner and Churu which border Punjab.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann — who took the stage with Mr Kejriwal on a moving truck – today asked the people to bring out their brooms and sweep out corruption.
There are questions though, whether AAP’s entry in Rajasthan will make it a feasible third option or it will dilute votes of the Congress as happened in Gujarat.