Here’s how Arvind Kejriwal turned the 2022 Gujarat assembly polls into the AAP vs. BJP narrative: Newsdrum

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New Delhi: A group of mostly young people greeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with ‘Modi-Modi’ chants outside Gujarat’s Vadodara airport as he landed earlier this week for a one-day campaign for his Aam Aadmi party in the BJP-led state where polls are due later this year.

The chants were greeted with cries of “Kejriwal-Kejriwal” by AAP supporters who were at the airport to receive the party’s national leader.

“Obviously the BJP is pushing people to chant against me because they are going to suffer a lot this time,” Kejriwal told a press conference later. “Interestingly, when Rahul Gandhi came, they didn’t chant any slogans against him.”

As the polls approach, political observers and pollsters working on the ground say Kejriwal has successfully turned Gujarat’s election into a BJP vs. AAP narrative as the main opposition Congress offers a “response cold”.

However, they doubt that Kejriwal and the AAP will succeed in reaping the electoral benefits of this narrative when elections are held by the end of this year.

“Aggressive polling campaign by AAP and cold Congress response so far has helped Kejriwal turn Gujarat election into BJP vs. AAP narrative,” a pollster collecting data for a polling agency told PTI , requesting anonymity.

He said the AAP follows the same ‘playbook’ and deploys the same ecosystem ‘as the BJP does during the elections -‘ initiating fights with rivals, launching counterattacks and sending the desired message. to voters through aggressive polling, spokesperson and social media campaigns. media” – to build the narrative in his favor.

Last month, the AAP named more than 1,100 “social media warriors” to lead its polling campaign amid fierce confrontation with the BJP over a range of issues, including alleged corruption in the politics of Delhi excise, which has now been withdrawn by the city’s AAP. government, and the alleged abuse of central investigative agencies by the Modi dispensation.

Yashwant Deshmukh, the founder of polling research agency C-Voter, said while Kejriwal is “working hard” and his party is campaigning “aggressively” in Gujarat, there is no clarity on priority of the Congress as he is caught up in his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.

“They are engaged in such huge activity and are ignoring the most important state, Gujarat, where they have been out of power for 27 years and elections are due to be held in the next few months,” he said.

Since July, the AAP supremo has visited Gujarat almost every week, spearheading his party’s campaign and reviewing and fine-tuning preparations.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has only visited the state twice in five months.

He had once traveled to Gujarat in May to kick off the Congress election campaign in the tribally dominated Dahod district. On September 5, he addressed his party’s ‘Parivartan Sankalp Rally’ in Ahmedabad and made a host of sounding promises, some of which had already been announced by Kejriwal — 300 units of free electricity for every household, jobs for 10 lakh youths, firm loan waiver – as AAP ‘collateral’ for the people of the state.

Kejriwal had launched his party’s election campaign in Gujarat as early as April 1 when he organized a road show in Ahmedabad, on the strength of the AAP’s formidable victory in Punjab.

In subsequent visits, he promised a host of “guarantees” to the people of the state, targeting nearly every segment of voters – youth, women, farmers, government workers, businessmen and rickshaw drivers.

The great old party has not been unable to overthrow the BJP in 27 years. Deshmukh said Kejriwal has found “fertile ground” in Gujarat as nearly “one in four voters” in the state have never seen a Congressional regime and, therefore, are open to welcoming “a new campaign, a suggestion and a change” offered by a third party.

“Two generations in Gujarat have only seen the BJP regime and they are ready to vent their anger,” he said. “But the problem with Congress is that they are unable to hold onto that 25% block for the time being due to a lack of imagination and aggressiveness.” he said. Kejriwal is trying to fill the vacuum created by the absence of national congressional leadership in the state, he said, but added that he felt Congress was still “way ahead” of the PAA .

“It’s more like Congress versus the AAP,” he said.

But, with the kind of attraction Kejriwal is currently getting, Gujarat might witness what Punjab saw five years ago when the efforts of the AAP helped dethrone the BJP and its allies, but don’t. could not bring him to power.

The Congress emerged victorious, while the AAP had to content itself with the status of main opposition.

Renowned psephologist Sanjay Kumar, who is also co-director of Lokniti-CSDS, said the party led by Kejriwal was getting “some attraction”. “But it is too early to say that the elections in Gujarat will be a fight between the AAP and the BJP.”

“There is a (AAP) buzz in some big cities and among some sections of voters, but it hasn’t made it to smaller towns and rural Gujarat,” he said. “I’m watching a three-way contest in Gujarat.”

But Darshan Desai, a freelance journalist and political analyst based in Gujarat, disagrees with this analysis.

The AAP has managed to expand its base of support in rural Gujarat, he said. “In fact, they started in rural Gujarat and then came to the cities.”

In the 2017 polls, the BJP retained power by winning 99 of the total 182 seats, while Congress won 77. Later, several Congress MPs resigned and joined the BJP.

The AAP, which presented its candidate out of 29 seats in the 2017 polls but was unable to open its account, is preparing to contest all the seats this time around, hoping to dislodge the BJP from power.

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