Buoyed by its massive victory in the Delhi assembly polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has decided to contest local body elections across the country as part of an ambitious plan to expand its presence beyond the national capital.
AAP leader Gopal Rai told news agency PTI that the party had convened a meeting of its national executive on Sunday to look at ways to expand its reach by using the "positive nationalism" mantra.
"People will be able to join our nation-building campaign by giving a missed call on 9871010101. Once we have recruited volunteers in large numbers, AAP will contest all local body elections across the country. We are currently looking at the upcoming local body polls in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat," Mr Rai, who was a minister in the Arvind Kejriwal government, said.
The AAP leader has also set its sights on contesting the assembly elections in a number of states, including Punjab.
Mr Rai claimed that his party's nationalism differs greatly from the one practised by the BJP. "In Delhi, we spread positive nationalism based on love and respect. The BJP's nationalism is based on hatred and divisive politics," he told PTI.
He claimed that AAP's Delhi experiment has become a "role model" for the entire country. "Our brand of nationalism gives the guarantee of good education, health care and livelihood to every section of the society, including farmers," Mr Rai said. "The BJP, on the other hand, does not respect the people of India. It views every person as its vote bank."
The politician rejected allegations that Arvind Kejriwal dabbled in "soft Hindutva" by visiting temples and reciting the Hanuman Chalisa in the run-up to the Delhi election. "For the BJP, religion is a political weapon. But for the people of this country, religion is about faith," he said.
AAP recorded a massive victory in the Delhi elections by bagging 62 of its 70 assembly seats, leaving just eight for the BJP. The Congress drew a blank for the second consecutive time.
This is not the first time AAP has tried to go beyond the national capital with its political ambitions. But while its performance in the 2017 Punjab elections fell far short of expectations, managing to garner just 20 seats, the party failed to bag even a single parliamentary seat in Delhi in the Lok Sabha polls last year.
(With inputs from PTI)