New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal has directed party colleagues — who have been appointed in-charge of states where the AAP plans to expand its footprint — to develop some sort of an intelligence mechanism to alert the top leadership about possible defections among local leaders, ThePrint has learnt.
Earlier this year, several of the party’s main office-bearers in Himachal Pradesh, which goes to the polls later this year, defected to the BJP, forcing it to dissolve and rebuild its organisational units in the state.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal’s directions were part of a larger road map chalked out by him for the party’s office-bearers in nine states, at an organisational review meeting chaired by him Tuesday, party sources said.
According to a source in the AAP, Tuesday’s meeting involved the in-charges and senior office-bearers appointed by the party in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, and Maharashtra.
The meeting coincided with the political drama in Bihar, where CM Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal (United) left the BJP and joined hands with the RJD to form a new government.
Two senior AAP leaders told ThePrint Wednesday that Kejriwal directed the in-charges of these states to “develop a mechanism” to ensure that local leaders and office-bearers do not join other parties and, if they show any tendencies to defect, there should be a system in place to alert the party’s top leadership in Delhi, which demands that state in-charges should keep close tabs on local politics.
“While some of the points discussed in the road map are already being followed in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, which go to the polls later this year, he (Kejriwal) wanted the leaders in the other states to follow the road map thoroughly in the months to come,” said one of the senior party functionaries who attended the meeting and did not wish to be identified.
While Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh will go to the polls next year, Haryana and Maharashtra have assembly elections due in 2024. Kerala will hold its next assembly elections in 2026.
AAP’s thumping victory in the Punjab assembly elections this year gave a major boost to its national expansion strategy. The party is currently in power in Delhi and Punjab.
‘Don’t promise plum posts to turncoats’
According to the two senior AAP functionaries quoted above, state in-charges and functionaries “were also told that political leaders coming from other parties should not be promised election tickets or plum positions in the AAP”.
“There also has to be a screening process in place for such leaders,” one of them said.
In the review meeting, Kejriwal also asked the AAP’s state units to establish separate wings for Dalits, tribals, youths, students, and women in each of these states and to start ‘gram sampark abhiyan (village outreach programmes)’, with an aim to expand in rural areas over the next six months, before focusing on strengthening the district- and block-level organisational structure, said the two AAP functionaries.
“Leaders have also been directed to publish fresh promotional material in each state, clearly spelling out the party’s ideology. He (Kejriwal) has also said that the ideology should be clearly stated as ‘pro-development’, just the way it used to be ‘anti-corruption’ in the party’s formative years,” said one of the leaders.
“It, however, does not mean that the party has given up on its anti-corruption stand. State units have been asked to highlight agendas such as free electricity units, better schools, quality healthcare services free of cost, and play up the party’s anti-corruption credentials,” the leader added.
(Edited by Siddarth Muralidharan)