The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), so far largely restricted to the Capital, wants to spread its wings to other states and the upcoming elections may be the opportunity they want to seize.
AAP is working on a well-crafted strategy to take on the BJP on its Hindutva plank and try to beat them at it. In the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP government has started the construction of the Ram temple with full fervour, AAP plans to take the fight into the saffron party’s bastion of Ayodhya.
The Tiranga Yatra, which the AAP launched in Agra on August 29 is likely to culminate in Ayodhya on September 14, where the leaders are likely to pay obeisance at the Ram Lalla temple -- the Ram Janmabhoomi - and then go on to Hanumangarhi. The party claims that the Tiranga Yatra will celebrate 75 years of India’s freedom and for unity and integrity of the country.
The AAP also sees avenues opening up for itself in Uttarakhand, where the BJP has seen three chief ministers in its term. Here again, AAP is banking on the themes of ‘deshbhakti’ and ‘devbhoomi’ ahead of the assembly polls. The party has declared the name of Colonel Ajay Kothiyal (Retd) as the chief ministerial candidate for the state. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has made it a point to iterate Kothiyal’s credentials as someone “who faced the bullets of Pakistan and enemies of India” and his contribution in rebuilding Kedarnath after the devastating floods in 2013 – that made him popular as ‘Bhole ka fauji’.
AAP has also promised to make Uttarakhand the spiritual capital for Hindus across the world by developing holy sites and shrines in the state. The AAP’s Tiranga Yatra is already catching the news waves as the Agra police registered a case against its leaders, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, for violating Covid-19 norms and gathering a crowd of more than 50 people on August 29.
Initially, the district administration had denied AAP the permission to take out the Yatra but agreed only when the party changed the route. You ask the AAP leaders, if it’s soft Hindutva, and they say, “not really”. They claim, it is beyond that. “It is about coexistence of nationalism and democracy within the larger umbrella of inclusive Hindutva and diversity of the country,” says a senior AAP leader.
While allocating funds in the Delhi budget under the head of ‘deshbhakti’ in March, Sisodia had said their deshbhakti or patriotism was different from BJP’s as it was not “divisive” like the saffron party’s. “We keep Ram in our hearts and the Constitution by its side,” he had said in the Assembly.