Aam Aadmi Party is taking steady steps in the electoral politics of West Bengal with an eye on Panchayat polls, scheduled for early next year. AAP opened its district office in Jhargram on Saturday.
The party opened its state office on September 25.
AAP is slowly building its network and looking for the right candidates to represent them, said Arnab Moitra, AAP Chief Spokesperson said.
Speaking to The New Indian, Moitra, said: “Everything is acceptance of the people. Indians are quite aware of what they have received from Congress and BJP. We are going on the ground, talking to the people. We are gradually growing the structure and people are welcoming us with open hands. People here understand the value of a good education system and a good healthcare system. We are very hopeful that the people of Bengal will accept us.”
While BJP has quickly bolstered its vote bank in the state sidelining the Left and the Congress and has shared an extremely acrimonious relationship with the ruling party, AAP’s entry will be closely watched to see how Mamata Banerjee reacts to it.
TMC and AAP have displayed national ambition. The Bengal Chief Minister is often seen holding parleys with leaders of regional parties. TMC also unsuccessfully contested the Tripura and Goa elections. With AAP ruling in Punjab now, Kejriwal’s national ambitions could pose a threat to didi’s vision for 2024.
Also, AAP’s presence in her own backyard could increase tensions within the state. Mamata Banerjee has always banked on welfarism and freebies to connect with her electorate. She is also known to play minority appeasement politics. It is yet to be seen what kind of alternative narrative AAP can provide on these issues to counter both TMC and BJP.
As of now, AAP has entered Bengal with their usual promise of providing better healthcare and education facilities.
“We want people by our side. We are here to build the nation. People are welcoming us because we are talking about the basic demands of people. Like all voters, we also want good education, good health to reach everywhere” says Moitra.
While the Panchayat Poll could prove to be a good launch pad for the party, AAP’s preparations are chiefly geared towards 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Moitra said the party’s decision to take part in the Panchayat Polls will ultimately depend on whether they get good candidates or not.
The spokesperson’s noncommittal tone on Panchayat polls though defies the energetic state wide campaign preparations the party has launched. AAP is doing canopy, and poster campaigning. The party also claims that its “missed call” drive for membership is getting popular.
In the last Panchayat poll held in 2018 TMC had won 16,814 out of the 48,650 contested seats. Among 9,217 uncontested seats the ruling party won 3,059.