NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party, which is on an expansion spree after its victory in the Punjab elections and Delhi Municipal Corporation elections, has sounded the poll bugle in Rajasthan. With the “Tiranga rally” in the capital city Jaipur, AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann targeted both the ruling Congress and opposition BJP in the state.
But the big question that remains is: Will AAP be able to make any dent in Rajasthan politics? For the last 30 years, Rajasthan is known to change governments every five years and power has always stayed in the hands of the Congress and BJP. In this situation, the question that is being asked is whether AAP be able to rise as the third front in state politics. According to the AAP leadership in Rajasthan, Sandeep Pathak, the national general secretary (organization), is focusing on the party’s affairs in the state. AAP is planning to announce its new unit in the next coming days. Last year, AAP dissolved its state unit and in February 2023, AAP launched its membership drive. “Within the next 10-15 days, we will announce our new state unit. The picture will be clear in the last days of March or in the first week of April,” an AAP functionary from Rajasthan said. “We have brought 4.5 lakh members under the party’s umbrella via direct and missed-call campaigns and soon many more people will join the party,” the AAP leader added.
In the last 2018 Assembly elections, AAP fielded 142 candidates out of a total of 200 Assembly seats in the state. But the party was not able to fetch a single seat. AAP’s total vote share was 0.38%, with 1,36,345 votes polled. Now the party has announced it will fight elections on all 200 seats.
According to leaders from AAP Rajasthan, the primary focus will be laid on urban seats. “Seats having proximity with Punjab like Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Bikaner, and seats near the national capital like Alwar, Dausa and Jaipur will get more concentration,” the AAP leader said. There are various challenges, which AAP is facing in Rajasthan like shortage of funds and absence of tall faces to lure the masses. “AAP’s recent Tiranga yatra was a show of strength of the party and it was a little successful show,” said Lokesh Somani, a political analyst from Rajasthan. “If we talk about the capital city Jaipur, AAP has no such big support on the ground, but in the north, the area bordering Punjab, AAP has some base,” Somani added. Last year, mimic artiste and comedian Shyam Rangeela joined AAP, but for the last many months, he has been inactive. “Earlier, after the Punjab elections, various AAP leaders from Punjab were focusing on north Rajasthan but now, they have no such outreach in the region,” Somani said.Manish Sisodia’s arrest and the law and order situation in Punjab have punctured the party’s image and this will impact the party’s performance in the upcoming state elections. Political analysts suggest that Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party is seen as a threat to the BJP and Congress. “But the situation is tough for AAP to become a dominant force in the state,” a political analyst said.