In what appears to be a reward for ensuring a thumping electoral victory in Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party today appointed MP Raghav Chadha as its co-incharge for the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections. Mr Chadha was also the co-architect for the Punjab victory earlier this year when AAP bagged a formidable 79 per cent majority by winning 92 out of 117 seats
Whispers of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party looking to field a big youth leader to spearhead its campaign in Gujarat, where it couldn't win even one seat in the last assembly elections, were doing the rounds earlier as well.
Raghav Chadha has shouldered big responsibilities both in Delhi and Punjab. The party also sees him as a very popular face among the youth, which it is courting with promises of a better future with better education, jobs, and business opportunities.
A win in Gujarat, where elections are due later this year, is critical for the party to realise its national aspirations. Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has made multiple visits to the state, even pulling his deputy Manish Sisodia along, to showcase his 'Delhi model' of development. Braving sharp attacks from the BJP, and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, about 'revdi' (freebies) culture, the party has promised jobs for all, free power and water, and improvements in health and education sectors if voted to power in Gujarat. AAP has also announced fixed salary for village heads.
Mr Kejriwal has been pitching AAP as the main rival of the BJP -- a space so far occupied by the Congress.
"There are people who don't want BJP rule in the state, and they also don't like voting for the Congress. We have to get their votes as we are the only alternative to BJP in the State," he was quoted as saying to members of his state unit.
Mr Chadha has repeated his chief's line on Congress, even comparing Mr Kejriwal to Jayaprakash Narayan. The time has come for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to become the natural replacement for the Congress as the main force against the BJP and if Jayaprakash Narayan could emerge from grassroots activism and shake up national politics, Arvind Kejriwal's chances look good, he told NDTV earlier this month.
"I do believe the time has come for AAP to become the natural replacement of the Congress. We have fire in our bellies and the guts to take on the BJP. AAP and Kejriwal have got what it takes to take on the might of the BJP. AAP is no more a regional party," the Rajya Sabha MP had said.
Criticising the Congress, he said, "Congress is perhaps the most convenient opposition for the BJP. Rahul Gandhi is an invaluable asset for the BJP. In a Rahul Gandhi vs BJP situation, BJP wins hands down. And this is where AAP comes in."
The Congress had put up a strong challenge to the BJP in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, winning 77 of the state's 182 seats. The BJP ended up with a tally of 99.