Even though Congress leaders officially hailed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal's tour of Gujarat for exposing the "deficiencies" and development "myth" of Narendra Modi, its senior leaders feel they will be major losers in the AAP-BJP fight.
A senior leader on the condition of anonymity told dna that like in Delhi, the AAP campaign in Gujarat and other places was affecting two-third votes of Congress and just one-third of the BJP.
Party leaders privately feel the door-to-door campaign of the AAP was infact, cornering the space of Congress. “As an opposition party, it was our duty to take up such campaign. The AAP is definitely eating into our space as opposition,” the leader said. The aggressive campaign is not only affecting Congress party’s minority vote bank, but also those who now feel Congress is tamed opposition to the BJP and other non-Congress government’s ruling different states.
Pointing out that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had raised hopes amongst party cadres when in a similar action he took on Mayawati by going Bhatta-Parsaul village in 2011, it was believed that the party from henceforth will fight as true Opposition at the ground zero level. But the leader admitted Rahul could not continue with the strategy. Gandhi had declared: “I will go to each and every corner of the State, to each village and each city, will fight as a comrade in arms with the party workers. But the fight is not limited to winning the next elections, but for making a better future for Uttar Pradesh” But he forgot all when he lost elections to Samajwadi Party (SP) miserably.
Gujarat opposition leader Shatisinh Gohil, however, says his state unit had been raising similar issues as the AAP over past decade, but didn’t get the identical media space. “We may have been raising issues in Gujarati. But they (AAP) are now raising it in other languages,” he said. He also mentioned various ‘yatras’, undertaken by the Congress in the state over past few years.
Congress spokesperson and union leader Shashi Tharoor also says the party was comfortable as long as Kejriwal's antics helped draw the attention.
In order to reclaim opposition space, Congress on Friday fielded its Gujarat leader Shaktisinh Gohil, armed with CAG report and other data to claim the central funds allotted for helping children suffering from severe malnutrition were squandered by the Gujarat on publicity and allocation for women's welfare was wasted in women's convention to muster votes.
He reeled out the statistics of the mal-governance in Gujarat from the state government and CAG (comptroller and auditor general) reports and asserted at an AICC press briefing here that he was placing the government's own data to puncture all the claims Modi has been making outside Gujarat as the BJP's PM candidate.
On Kejriwal turned away when he tried to meet Modi, Gohil said it never happened in Gujarat that a guest is turned away, more so when the person is a former chief minister. Obviously, he said Modi is scared of Kejriwal because he is not able to reconcile that his monopoly of "nautanki" (drama) has been hijacked away by the AAP leader.