‘Aiming for a national role is part of a natural progression for AAP and Kejriwal’.
Amid closed-door talks with the Congress over sharing of Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, in his Independence Day speech, appeared making a conscious effort to come across as a national leader who is not only dreaming of making the country a world leader, but also has a solution to national problems like long power cuts.
In Kejriwal’s 35-minute speech at Chhatrasal Stadium, Delhi issues found a very brief mention when he talked about the recent floods and remained focused mostly on national issues like Manipur and Nuh violence, power cuts of about 7-8 hours in some states and also shared his vision on providing 200 free units of power to all Indians and improving education and health services in the country.
Asked about Kejriwal’s intention behind raising Manipur and Nuh violence while addressing Delhiites, a member of the CM’s core political team said, “After all, we are a national party.” In Punjab and Chandigarh, Kejriwal appears inclined to field AAP candidates on about 10 out of 14 seats and his posturing as a national leader seems aimed at setting a stage for tough bargaining with the Congress or the Opposition bloc. In Delhi, the AAP does not want to allow the Congress to reclaim the latter’s Muslim voter base and as a result, is offering just two Lok Sabha seats out of the seven while the Congress wants three–including the Muslim-dominated North East and Chandni Chowk.
JNU scholar and political analyst Dr Navneet Anand said that aiming for a national role is part of a natural progression for AAP and Kejriwal, “Kejriwal is well within his rights to showcase the model of free power and improved education and health services that governments of his party have delivered in Delhi and Punjab,” he said.
Political strategist Ritwik Srivastav said: “After serving in Delhi for 10 years, the AAP can seek its rightful place on the national stage.” “If the party’s tested governance model could be exported from Delhi to Punjab, why can’t the success story be replicated at the national level?” he asked, adding that several surveys have shown that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal is the third most popular political face in the country.
He, however, cautioned AAP against being too ambitious or greedy in seat-sharing. “Seat-sharing discussions should not reach a flashpoint where the AAP walks out of a national alliance and decides to field its candidates against them. There has to be some give and take from the AAP’s side and from other parties’ side,” he said.
AAP sources said the issue of uninterrupted power supply strikes a chord with voters in the Hindi heartland. They hinted that the issue serves the party’s cause in states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where power cuts are an issue with voters.
Apart from these two states, the AAP’s ambitious plan for the parliamentary polls includes fielding candidates in Haryana, Himachal and Gujarat, said a leader. To showcase his so-called growing national stature, Kejriwal, during his I-Day speech, also made a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that India won’t become a world leader by just giving long speeches and also indirectly referred to the alleged waiver of corporate loan default amounting to Rs 1.5 lakh crore by the Central government. He claimed that the said amount could have been used for offering 200 units of free power to every household in the country.