With just a few months until the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) campaign in the mountain state appears to have lost some momentum as the party’s leadership seems more focused on campaigning with the BJP in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After its stunning run in the Punjab elections, the AAP campaigned in Himachal Pradesh not only with rallies by senior leaders but also with numerous road shows by Arvind Kejriwal, the party’s Chairman and CM of Delhi, and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann , accelerated. The blitzkrieg had led many to believe that the BJP could not only overthrow Congress as its main challenger, but also pose a tough challenge to the ruling Jai Ram Thakur government.
But after its senior leader and then party leader for the election, Satyendra Jain, was arrested in an alleged corruption case, the AAP clearly seems to have fallen behind. Although the AAP leadership claims that the entire top group is also focused on Himachal, events suggest that Gujarat is a higher priority for him.
Apart from Arvind Kejriwal’s numerous campaign visits, the party has also devoted all its resources to the state. Senior leader Raghav Chadha, who was also in charge of the Punjab elections, was dispatched to Gujarat to coordinate the party’s election campaign. Also, his Himachal campaign seems to be losing some of its luster.
Aside from a few roadshows, it has been the local leadership that has been tasked with running the campaign in recent weeks. This comes at a time when both the BJP and Congress have stepped up their campaigns. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already held a number of rallies with impressive turnouts, and Congress is also planning large rallies by star activists like Priyanka Gandhi.
“The AAP had started well after the Punjab win, but after some setbacks such as arresting Jain and filing FIR against Manish Sisodia, they seemed to have slowed down. Also, the Gujarat elections appear to be far more critical and prestigious for the party than the politically and strategically smaller Himachal Pradesh,” commented one observer.
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