Kolkata: In 2023, TMC will have another competitor in the panchayat polls apart from BJP, Congress and Left. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is being seen as a replacement of the Congress to challenge the formidable BJP nationally will contest in the 2023 panchayat elections in West Bengal. This announcement comes from AAP’s state in-charge Sanjoy Basu post his party’s landslide win in Punjab.
The AAP, which is now the fourth Indian party after the Congress, BJP, CPI-M to rule more than a state (though Delhi is a union territory), has already rebooted its mass outreach campaigns in West Bengal. Quite similar to how the BJP had started bolstering its campaign a few years ago, the AAP has provided a phone number, a miss call to which will earn one the party’s membership.
Besides, the ruling party of Delhi held a couple of marches in Kolkata very recently.
In the Malda district of North Bengal, posters were found on streets supporting Kejriwal and AAP to enter into West Bengal politics, which is dominated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) since 2009. Like Kejriwal in Delhi, Mamata stormed back to power for the third term in 2021 decimating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, which is now ridden by its infighting.
Not perturbed by the AAP arrival, West Bengal minister and TMC veteran, Firhad Hakim, said, “Earlier BJP had tried to capture power here with a different culture. Now AAP has won in Punjab and it wants to keep its footprint here. They are welcome but I don’t think it will matter much.”
Though the BJP has emerged as the only legitimate Opposition in the assembly with its 77 seats, the saffron camp has already lost a number of key party leaders to the TMC besides getting its vote shares lower than the CPI-M, which ruled the state for 34 years until Banerjee voted them out in 2011, in the recent byelections and civic polls. Reacting to AAP’s emergence, which could further split the Opposition votes in favour of the TMC, West Bengal BJP chief spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya says, “AAP had disappeared after suddenly emerging in the state politics a few years ago. Now they are again becoming active… BJP is always in favour of multi ideologies which strengthen democracy.”
India Blooms News Service