The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), going national after the success of its performance in last year's Delhi Assembly elections, has managed to stitch a patchwork with grassroots movements such as those of tribals, women's rights and farmers across the country. The strategy to go down to the basics is an attempt to increase the party's support base manifold ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Since its formation in 2012, AAP has been trying to rope in a wide range of activists but had been unable to do so until its stunning debut in the December Delhi assembly elections, in which it won 28 of the 70 seats it contested. For the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the party has so far announced 70 candidates. A brief analysis of their candidates reveals that nearly 40% candidates are activists, working on different issues across states.
Activist Medha Patkar, who leads the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People's Movements, will contest for the party from Mumbai Northeast seat. Another NBA activist Alok Agarwal will contest from the Khandwa seat.
Similarly, Satya Mahar, AAP's candidate from Odisha's Kalahandi seat is the leader of a citizen's forum, Sachetan Nagarik Manch, and is a prominent member of the Niyamgiri protest movement that has been taking on corporates who are trying to take over the tribals' land.
Another AAP candidate, Balwinder Kaur, who will contest the Kurukshetra seat in Haryana against industrialist and Congress MP Naveen Jindal, too is an activist, who belongs to the Bhartiya Kisan Union fighting for farmers' rights.
Activist Rachna Dheengra, fighting for the rights of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy victims, will fight from Bhopal. RTI activist Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat will contest Srinagar's Lok Sabha seat against National Conference's Dr Farooq Abdullah. Anti-Kudankulam nuclear plant protest leader SP Udayakumar and tribal rights leader Soni Sori are also expected to fight on AAP tickets but their candidature is yet to be announced.
Apart from activists, a mix of retired army officers, former bureaucrats, police and foreign service officers too are contesting.
"AAP has made serious efforts to bring all grassroots movements together since the party's inception. The efforts started bearing fruits in the last few months and results are visible for everyone to see in our (candidate) lists," a senior AAP leader told dna.
He further stated that everyone including AAP's central leaders, state convenors and others are involved in bringing the activists under the AAP banner. He said that it was important to convey to the leaders of these movements that, "Right now, India requires everyone to come together to achieve their goals".