AAP’s list of 20 Lok Sabha candidates announced on Sunday shows a mix of professionals from various fields, clearly a middle class aspirational pantheon.
To cut through identity politics, to give the middle class a stake in electoral politics, to present a list on ‘anti-political’ candidates, to announce that there is a talented hard-working class that wants to have a share in the destiny of the country, is the intention.
For the Mumbai seats, the party has laid out an impressive mix of candidates ranging from Left to Right — activist Medha Patkar from Mumbai North East, RTI activist Mayank Gandhi from Mumbai North West, and high-profile banker Meera Sanyal who fits into the profile of a typical South Mumbai resident taking on Milind Deora.
In Nagpur, BJP’s former president Nitin Gadkari will have to face activist Anjali Damania apart from Congress’ Vilas Muttemwar who won last time.
What sort of impact will AAP make in Mumbai and Maharashtra?
In Mumbai, Congress won by comfortable margins, mainly due to the MNS factor. Raj Thackeray’s outfit has been helping Congress by taking away substantial chunks (more than the winning margin) away from the BJP-Shiv Sena combine.
Whose votes will AAP suck out?
Quite possibly that of the Congress like it happened in Delhi where BJP did not lose votes to AAP. The middle class urban vote of BJP remained with the party because Arvind Kejriwal has made his opposition to Narendra Modi clear. This is likely to be repeated in Mumbai in the Lok Sabha elections.
The combined votes of the Sena-BJP alliance and MNS would have decimated Congress in all the six seats except the North central Lok Sabha constituency won by Priya Dutt. According to noted psephologist and journalist Dr Uday Nirgudkar, this time around AAP can be expected to take away sizable number of Congress’ votes. The party itself might not be able to win any seat except that of Mumbai north-east since activist Medha Patkar, has a mass base in the slums. Here Medha Patkar is positioned to take away most of Congress votes apart from the BSP votes of 25,000 in the constituency. It will be interesting to see if some of Shiv Sena’s and MNS middle class votes shift towards AAP. If this happens, Patkar who is well-known for her life-long struggles for tribals and for protecting the environment, can pull of a surprise.
The BJP-Sena combine will be happy with AAP candidates all of whom will cut into Congress votes. Any tactical/secret arrangement made with MNS by Congress or BJP may turn out to be crucial. AAP also has an appeal in slums so BSP will suffer too.