Ahmedabad: The impressive showing by the AAP in the Delhi assembly elections has had a ripple effect in Gujarat as well. A huge spurt in AAP membership, which has crossed the one lakh mark, has caused a worry for the BJP too. Sources say its PM candidate Narendra Modi has sought a day to day update on the activities of AAP in Gujarat.
In the past fortnight alone, the membership of the Aam Aadmi Party in Gujarat has risen from about 7500 to over 1.25 lakh. While common people have been joining by the thousands on a daily basis, the party has seen popular entrants like Mallika Sarabhai and former BJP MLA Kanu Kalsariya, who has led several peoples' movements in Saurashtra too.
AAP Leader Kanu Kalsaria said, "Till now there was no third option in Gujarat. This is now the third option. I am sure the AAP will be successful in Gujarat."
Clearly, there is a new threat to Modi's bastion. And it is from the common man. Thousands have been lining up at the AAP offices across the state to register themselves as party members. These include professionals, academics and others. While corporates are yet to throw their weight behind the AAP in Gujarat, the common man is clearly interested.
Mrudulaben Pandya, an AAP member said "Even when the CM directs, officials do not do their work here. Who will rein them in? That's why we want the AAP."
Another AAP member Pravinbhai says that the real party with a difference is AAP, not the BJP. He said, "Till now, all parties are about money power. This party is different".
Amit, a new member of the AAP also echoes the same sentiments. He said "Kejriwal is fighting against corruption. We want to be with him. We want him to move forward."
Encouraged by the response, the AAP intends to contest in all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state. AAP Gujarat convener Sukhdev Patel says about 25,000 new members are joining the party everyday.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Sukhdev Patel said, "Our membership has cross 1.25 lakh since the drive began on Jan 1. About 20,000 to 25,000 are joining everyday. And with procedures simplified, we will see even more joining."
Such has been the growth of the AAP in the state that Intelligence Bureau of the state personnel have allegedly been visiting homes of the AAP members and seeking their details. Party workers took out a protest rally and asked the police commissioner to stop harassment of the AAP workers.
An angry AAP member Nitin Barot said, "Government is misusing its powers and harassing us. If you want any information, call us, we will come to the police station and furnish it to you."
Only time will tell whether AAP will manage to breach Narendra Modi's bastion in the Lok Sabha elections. For now though, the BJP has begun to see the AAP as a bigger rival and threat than the Congress in Gujarat.