Aam Aadmi Party has been a toast of the entire English and Hindi media since their stunning debut in Delhi Assembly election. Although exit polls suggest it may not win too many seats but it has definitely ushered in a refreshing change in India’s political system. To many, it looks like a party with a single agenda each day, taking on the big boys in an uneven political skirmish. Their unique high pitched political campaign has meant that they have attracted huge amount of eyeballs especially within the urban middle class. Bengal is no exception with every political adda (discussion) speaking highly about the influence of AAP. But it seems as of now that Kejriwal lead Aam Aadmi Party will not make its electoral debut here.
Low priority state
When AAP first announced that it will put candidates in more than 400 seats, it was widely assumed that the debutant party will also try out their luck in Bengal. A team of representatives from the party even visited the state to get a ground report. Just after the Delhi results, AAP did a rally in Kolkata. It attracted a sizeable audience. But over the time enthusiasm has fizzled out. It looks like Bengal as of now is pretty low in priority of the party born out of anti-corruption movement. Hence in all likelihood, AAP will not contest any seats in the upcoming election. Party general secretary Pankaj Gupta though initially said that they were planning to contest 8-10 seats and candidate selection was in its final phase. But it seems like there was a miscommunication between the state and centre leadership in this issue. According to reports received, Arvind Kejriwal is also unlikely to visit Kolkata any time soon.
Anti- corruption plank not working
One of the major reasons why AAP seems to be unwilling to join the electoral fray here is the lukewarm response India against Corruption (IAC) received during Lokepal agitation. Unlike cities like Delhi, Mumbai and even Bengaluru, protest movement never got much wind here. The media also didn’t warm up to the issue and there used to be motley gathering of people in the protests. Hence AAP is probably taking it slow in Bengal and consolidating its base in Northern and Western India. AAP’s main agenda has always been eradicating corruption. But the problem is relatively less acute in the state. Saradha scam notwithstanding the major political leaders of the state like Mamata Banerjee and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee are perceived as honest people living with modest lifestyle. Thus, corruption as an issue hasn’t really touched a chord with aam admi of Bengal. Also none of the top brass of AAP leaders hails from here. Thus there is an acute lack of leadership in the state unit. So the party has been unable to tap into the first signs of anti-incumbency against the state government. According to many pundits, electoral battlefield in Bengal is often sharply divided across ideological line. It is not like in many states where people by default vote for either of the two major national parties. Thus it will take some time for AAP to gain any significant foothold here.
Cadres still hopeful
There are murmurs of factionalism and delusion with central leadership within the AAP cadres of the state. Some media reports suggest disgruntled members may form a new party called All India Aam Aadmi party. Though others suggest, it may well be a pressure tactic to get the leadership in their toes. As of now the cadres are hoping AAP at least put out candidates against bigwigs like Adhir Chaudhury, Subhendu Adhikary etc . They hope that it will help them to gain eyeballs and galvanise the party machinery for future elections.