Barring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main Opposition, Indian National Lok Dal, which is on a downslide post the split in the Chautala clan and formation of the Dushyant Chautala- headed Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has offered alliance with the other two key players – the Congress and JJP – for the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls later this year.
This move shows the desperation of the AAP to find its feet in Haryana politics. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on all the 10 seats. Some of its candidates were well-known faces like Yogendra Yadav and current state unit president Navin Jaihind.
But the party fared miserably with AAP’s then chief ministerial candidate for Haryana Assembly elections, Yogendra Yadav, losing his deposit from Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency and landing at the number five position in terms of votes.
In all, the party got just over four per cent votes in the 2014 polls. Disappointed by the Lok Sabha performance, the AAP didn’t contest the 2014 Assembly polls.
Now many like Yadav have left the party and there is no big change in the party’s prospects as five years down the line, there is again little hope of AAP putting up a good show in the Lok Sabha polls as the party appears to have also realised the ground realities of politics, especially in Haryana’s caste-ridden politics.
AAP continues to face a crisis of leadership due to lack of popular leaders with a mass base and the party is therefore desperate for an alliance in Haryana even if it means compromising its ideology on corruption.
No surprise then, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal urged the Congress and the JJP to join hands with the AAP in the state to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.
In a tweet in Hindi, Kejriwal said, “Desh ke log Amit Shah aur Modi ji ki jodi ko harana chahatey hain. Agar Haryana mein JJP, AAP aur Congress saath ladtey hain toh Haryana ki dasson seaton par BJP haregi. Rahul Gandhi is par vichar karein.” (People want to defeat Amit Shah and Modi. If the Congress, JJP and AAP contest in Haryana jointly, the BJP will lose on all 10 seats in Haryana. Rahul Gandhi should think about it).
Defending the decision, AAP Haryana president Naveen Jaihind said the party’s state unit was open to tie-ups with the Congress and the JJP since the aim was to “save the country” from BJP.
“BJP is very harmful for both the state and the country. This is why we have told both Congress and JJP that an alliance is important,” said Jaihind in Gurgaon.
When asked about AAP’s previous attacks on the Congress over corruption, he said: “We are not denying Congress’s corruption but today, the BJP is breaking up society. A government that can even use the armed forces for politics, which can do anything to win elections, is very dangerous. When people are saved, society is saved, the country is saved… only then can we do politics. Otherwise, what is the point.”
Haryana Congress leaders have shown no interest in AAP’s offer so far, and the JJP too had said it will not be part of any alliance that has the Congress.
The AAP maintains that talks are still on with the JJP for an alliance. Jaihind said a good outcome on the AAPJJP alliance could be expected around Holi.
“It is crucial that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is voted out. We had, hence, proposed an alliance for this election. Talks with JJP are underway,” he said, adding that if the pact fails to work, the party would contest all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
After Delhi and Punjab, the AAP has been eyeing Haryana as its next destination in north India. Party national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is promising Delhi government- like facilities of schools and hospitals in Haryana.
But besides this, the AAP hopes to gain from the fact that Kejriwal hails from Haryana and at least eight party MLAs and ministers in Delhi also have roots in Haryana.
AAP’s new Rajya Sabha MPs ND Gupta and Sushil Gupta also have their roots in Bhiwani and Jind respectively. Jaihind, Kejriwal, ND Gupta and Sushil Gupta are all Baniyas from Haryana.
Since a large number of employees and traders visit Delhi almost daily, AAP hopes its performance in Delhi could help is get votes in bordering areas of Delhi including Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Rewari, Panipat and Bhiwani.
Therefore, the party hopes AAP-JJP can be a formidable combination in the upcoming polls. While JJP may get votes from the influential Jat community which has backed the Chautalas in the past, the AAP may get upper caste and Baniya community votes. Besides this, as both parties are led by youngsters, they could also get votes of the young voters across caste lines.