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With 2022 poll outcomes, AAP poised to become national party

DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent

Published on: December 31, 2022 | Updated on: December 31, 2022

While the AAP accused the BJP of misusing the central investigation agencies to implicate its leaders in false cases to defame the party ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the saffron party questioned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's (in picture) "dead honest government" credentials.  PTI

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) national ambition got wings in 2022 following its electoral feat in Punjab and foray in Goa and Gujarat assemblies but the party had to fire-fight a bevy of corruption charges against its Delhi leaders.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party had a head start in the beginning of 2022 itself when it recorded a stupendous victory in the Punjab assembly polls held on February 20.

With 92 out of a total 117 assembly seats coming to its kitty in the elections, the AAP stormed to power in Punjab, crushing the ruling Congress under its victory chariot.

The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal, who alternatively ruled the border state for over seven decades, ended up bagging just 16 and 3 seats respectively in the three-cornered fight.

In the Goa assembly elections held on February 14, the Kejriwal-led party managed to win two seats and secured an overall vote share of 6.77 per cent which led to its recognition as a state party in the coastal state.

By the end of the year, the AAP's national ambition got wings after it won five seats and secured an overall vote share of 13 per cent in Gujarat assembly polls.

In what was seen as an increase in its political clout back in the home turf, the AAP also ended the 15-year rule of the BJP in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), defeating the saffron party in the civic polls held on December 4.

"Overall, it remained a very good and significant year for us. Our party formed its government in Punjab and won MCD elections in Delhi as well. The party also entered Goa and Gujarat winning two and five seats respectively in the assembly elections," AAP's chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj told PTI.

With this, the AAP also became a national party in just 10 years of it coming into existence, a feat that many of the regional parties are yet to achieve despite them vying for it for the past several years, he said.

According to rules, a political organisation automatically becomes a national party once it is recognised as a state party in at least four states. To be recognised as a state party, a political party needs to win at least two seats and secure a minimum 6 per cent vote share in the assembly polls in the state concerned.

Already notified as a state party in Delhi, Punjab and Goa, the AAP being notified as a state party in Gujarat and subsequently a national party is just a matter of time as it has secured more than enough assembly seats and vote share required for the recognition.

"We have submitted necessary documents along with a request before the Election Commission in this regard," a senior AAP leader said.

Though the AAP achieved a significant milestone, the political observers feel, allegations of corruption levelled against its senior leaders in 2022 will continue to haunt the party in the year ahead.

In the run-up to the assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Delhi minister Satyendar Jain in an alleged money laundering case while the CBI later booked Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in an alleged liquor policy scam.

The action against the two senior AAP leaders became a major flashpoint between the party and the BJP in 2022 with both trading charges against each other.

While the AAP accused the BJP of misusing the central investigation agencies to implicate its leaders in false cases to defame the party ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the saffron party questioned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's "dead honest government" credentials.

Riding high on its stunning victory in Punjab, the AAP was hoping to win some seats in Himachal Pradesh but it drew a blank in the state assembly polls when the results came on December 8.

Jain's arrest came as a major setback for the party as he was leading its poll preparations in the poll-bound Himachal Pradesh.

Noted political scientist Sanjay Kumar, who is also the co-director of Lokniti-CSDS, said 2022 remained a "very good year" for the AAP as it managed to win elections in Punjab and Delhi civic body as well but the allegations of corruption dented the party's image to "some extent".

"I am saying these are just charges at this point in time. They (AAP) will have to overcome these charges and that's going to be an immediate challenge for the party in 2023," he told PTI.

People do have "some curiosity" in their mind with regard to the corruption charges against the AAP leaders and that the allegations have dented its image was apparent when the results of the 2022 MCD elections came, Kumar said.

The AAP is confident of witnessing more success in execution of its national expansion plan in the year ahead despite corruption taint against its leaders.

"Our brand value has increased with our electoral success in 2022. The AAP's politics of work and honesty is gaining traction across the country. People want us to come to their states," the party's chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed.

"There is no impact of the corruption charges on the party's image," he added.

Poised to build on the momentum of its electoral success in 2022 with national party tag, the AAP is gearing up to launch its next forays in the states going to polls in 2023, with focus on Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan as well as Madhya Pradesh where the BJP is in power at present.

The AAP is also preparing to contest Jammu and Kashmir assembly poll if it is held next year.