Ahmedabad: In Narendra Modi's Gujarat, the Aam Aadmi Party seems to have failed to generate the enthusiasm it is used to. At the end of a statewide five-day jhaadu or broom yatra, only a few hundred people turned up in state capital Gandhinagar.
It was a far cry from the sea of Gandhi topis at functions in other places after the year-old party's spectacular debut in the Delhi elections last month. Most of the participants chose to travel the last four km of the yatra in their vehicles rather than walk.
The party's rallies since the weekend in Gujarat's districts and towns too drew thin crowds. But AAP claims it deliberately kept numbers small.
"We had asked only 10 volunteers from each of the 26 constituencies to come. Look at the message and impact, not at the numbers. The numerical strength will be known on the day of the elections," said AAP's Gujarat Covenor Sukhdev Patel.
The party points to what it claims is a massive response in Gujarat to its membership drive to counter the notion that they have failed to interest Gujarat. It says three lakh people from Gujarat have joined the party.
The BJP's Jaynarayan Vyas, however, said, "The people in Gujarat are focused and they have always rejected such fly-by-night political parties. They have always stuck to two-party system. It is either the BJP or the Congress.''
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the general elections due by May.
AAP has said that it will contest all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat and that it aims to highlight the "anti-people and pro-corporate stand" of the Modi government.
The AAP decision to contest has given a new twist to the battle for the Lok Sabha, so far seen as a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress.
Though recent opinion polls give the BJP a clear edge in the general elections, experts say the rise of AAP might upset calculations.
In a rally earlier this month, Mr Modi slammed AAP for its "lack of experience" and said the country needed "people who have experience to take it forward."