By Mohit Dubey
After winning the assembly elections in Delhi hands down, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has set its eyes on Uttar Pradesh — the country’s politically most crucial state.
The state had slipped out of the party’s radar following the initial euphoria after Arvind Kejriwal took power in Delhi the first time in December 2013. Now it seems to be finding favour with people again.
Admitting that the AAP was back in action for a long political innings, a senior party leader told IANS that the party had plans to spread its wings in Uttar Pradesh.
“Very much,” said Vaibhav Maheshwari, a member of the AAP National Council and spokesman in Uttar Pradesh. The “leadership is very keen to expand in Uttar Pradesh”, he said.
But he added that this time there would be less of euphoria and more of ground work.
“We have learnt our lessons of stretching beyond our means. Now the expansion will be more structured,” he said.
An IT entrepreneur, Maheshwari says the party web site has witnessed a “quake of sorts” since the victory in Delhi where the AAP crushed the BJP and the Congress, bagging 67 of the 70 assembly seats.
The BJP won just three seats. The Congress was wiped out.
Thousands of youngsters and even senior citizens are approaching the 27-month-old AAP in Uttar Pradesh since the Delhi tsunami.
The party is brushing the dust off the 72 district committees already in place but out of action, specially after the Lok Sabha rout which saw all AAP candidates bite the dust.
Kejriwal himself lost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi. So did another prominent leader, Kumar Vishwas, to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
The five zones in the state comprising 15-18 districts each have been sensitized on future action plans of the AAP, a senior functionary said.
But the party will now be focussing more on Poorvanchal, a region which includes the Lok Sabha constituencies of Modi (Varanasi) and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh).
The UP Secretariat, a body working in the absence of a formal state committee, is likely to be remodelled soon to revitalize the 1.2 million members in the state.
“Already we are flooded with telephone calls, SMSes and mails,” said an activist.
The AAP has opened three new offices in Lucknow and wants to scale up the number to 110.
In the last few days, the AAP membership has surged. Interestingly, most new entrants are from Varanasi (23,000) followed by Ghaziabad (19,000) and Lucknow (16,500), says Avinash Tripathi, a party leader.
Sanjay Singh, the national spokesman of the party, hails from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. He is likely to meet the state leadership and strategize the AAP’s plans to expand in the sprawling state.