New Delhi: Raghav Chadha, who spearheaded the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) successful campaign in Punjab, was appointed the party’s joint in-charge for poll-bound Gujarat.
Chadha, 34, is a Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab and the chairman of an advisory committee to Punjab’s Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. He, according to party sources,
is one of the closest aides of AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Gujarat, which is under the BJP for 27 years, will go to the polls later this year. The Election Commission, however, is yet to announce the dates. The AAP had unsuccessfully contested from 30 seats in Gujarat in 2017. But in 2021, the party won in 27 wards at the municipal corporation polls in Surat.
In Gujarat, an AAP insider said, Chadha will primarily be taking charge of units leading the election campaign, media strategies and distribution of tickets — a set of tasks that has striking similarities with the role he played ahead of the Punjab polls. The AAP won the Punjab polls in March with a thumping majority of 92 out of 117 assembly seats.
The party’s other joint in-charge for Gujarat is Sandeep Pathak, who too is a Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab and is believed to be a strategic adviser to Kejriwal. Pathak, a former IIT professor, is primarily in charge of surveys, grass-root level work, and expanding the party’s support base in Gujarat. He, too, had played a significant role in the Punjab campaign.
While Pathak’s name as the Gujarat in-charge was announced in March, Chadha’s name as the joint in-charge was formally announced on Sunday – coinciding with Kejriwal addressing a congregation in Delhi comprising all MPs, MLAs, councillors and elected representatives in district development levels of the AAP from across states and union territories.
“This was an expected thing for most party colleagues. Considering his [Chadha’s] success in Punjab, his experience with the AAP since the India Against Corruption Movement days, and his capability to connect with the youth, it was given that at one point he would be appointed as one of the in-charges in Gujarat, where the party is majorly invested at this point,” said a senior Delhi-based AAP functionary.
Another senior leader highlighted that Chadha will play a crucial role in the Gujarat campaign because his appointment comes at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is constantly attacking the AAP’s branding as an anti-corruption crusader by initiating one probe after another in Delhi – ranging from the government’s liquor policy to the procurement of 1,000 buses.
“The AAP currently is relying on the strategy of highlighting how the BJP is trying to break its governments in Delhi and Punjab with its ‘Operation Lotus’. But that can’t continue for long. New strategies are needed, and that is where Chadha will get to play a significant role in Gujarat,” said the senior leader.
Much like the party’s Punjab strategy, party sources said, Chadha and Pathak will act as the connecting bridge between the central leadership based in Delhi and its Gujarat unit, which is headed by Gopal Italia.
Before he entered the Rajya Sabha, Chadha was an MLA from Delhi’s Rajendra Nagar – a seat which he had won in the 2020 assembly polls, a year after unsuccessfully contesting the Lok Sabha election from South Delhi. He continues to be a national spokesperson of the party.
(Edited by Tony Rai)