Home >politics >policy >After Punjab, next stop Goa for Aam Aadmi Party

Seeking to expand its electoral base and provide an alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to contest the assembly elections in Goa next year.

The party fancies its chances in the state mainly on account of three factors: the small size of the state; the party’s ability to provide an alternative to the BJP government; and the fact that the Congress party is not seen as a strong contender in the 2017 assembly elections.

“We are serious about contesting elections in Goa. There is space for us here with the anti-incumbency against the BJP government and Congress is also not a strong contender in the state," said a senior AAP leader on the condition of anonymity.

The political affairs committee of the party is yet to take a final call on this matter.

Goa has 40 assembly constituencies and two seats in the Lok Sabha. During the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, newcomer AAP managed to secure over 11,000 votes in both the constituencies.

“During the Lok Sabha elections, our party had no set-up in the state, yet we managed to get more than 10,000 votes in both the constituencies," the leader said.

Ahead of polls, the party has begun working on its organizational base in the state. The party has sent a team to survey the state and train volunteers. It has also begun a membership drive in Goa.

If the proposal is approved, Goa will be the second state AAP will contest in 2017, after Punjab, and signals a desire in the party to expand its national footprint after a landslide victory in Delhi last year.

AAP spokesperson Ashutosh on a visit to Goa told reporters on Thursday, “The BJP-led government in Goa is most discredited. People are looking for an alternative."

“The party is also expanding now. We are in a position to contest elections in two states at the same time. We feel we are in a position where we can build our organizational strength to contest elections. We have also started working on our organizational strength in the state. It is a small state and the party has time to work on the organization," the leader mentioned earlier added.

This move comes as the party prepares itself for assembly polls in Punjab, which will be the first assembly polls the party will contest since the Delhi win in February 2015.

The terms of both legislatures—Punjab and Goa—expire in March 2017.

In both states, the AAP’s principal rival is the BJP and its allies.

While Goa has been ruled by the BJP since 2012, Punjab is led by its ally Shiromani Akali Dal for the past two terms.

“People are looking for an alternative. People are disappointed by the current government," said another AAP leader, who did not wish to be identified.

However, the party has decided not to contest any of the assembly elections due in April and May this year—in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told party workers in Kerala in a video conference on Saturday, “The 2016 elections we are not contesting because we are not ready. We should accept this ourselves. Fighting elections is a completely different ball game. We have to be prepared for the next election though."

Since its win in Delhi, AAP has been focusing on Punjab—a major reason the party has decided not to contest the assembly polls due this year.

Analysts say that while Goa may be looking for an alternative to the BJP, building a personal connect with voters is key to winning seats in the state.

“Certainly, people in Goa are looking for an alternative space but conventional linkages may prevail. The AAP has not been able to create that kind of a connect in the last year," said Rahul Tripathi, associate professor and head, Department of Political Science, Goa University.

He added, “There is definitely citizen involvement in the party but that doesn’t necessarily translate to votes. The size of constituencies is very small in Goa and that personal connect matters. But definitely, AAP is on a resurgence in the state."

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