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December 09, 2022 01:34 am | Updated 12:49 pm IST – NEW DELHI:
Senior leaders celebrating AAP becoming a national party in Delhi on Thursday. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy
More than 700 press conferences since April 2020 to “expose the BJP”, over 25,000 WhatsApp groups to take the party’s message to the people, several surveys to screen the candidates — the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) left no stone unturned to win the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls, the party’s MCD in-charge Durgesh Pathak told The Hindu.
The decision to fight the municipal elections on the issues of garbage and landfills was taken soon after the 2020 Assembly election, Mr. Pathak also said.
As it turned out, the party won not just the civic body, it won all the three wards adjoining the landfills — the Kalyanpuri ward in Ghazipur, the Jahangirpuri ward in Bhalswa and the Tughlakabad ward in Okhla.
With 134 councillors in the 250-member House, AAP has just made it past the halfway mark (126).
At the same time, the BJP, with 104 councillors, is still hoping to have a say in the mayoral election. Both parties fought a high-voltage contest in which AAP went to the people with the slogan ‘MCD mein bhi Kejriwal’, while the BJP wove its campaign around Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Party insiders say AAP was expecting to win between 160 and 170 seats. “However, the BJP won 30-40 seats more due to the way in which ward boundaries were redrawn in the delimitation. Otherwise, we would have crossed the 160-ward figure,” said a party insider.
Mr. Pathak said a team, which he monitored, went through official documents, RTIs and articles to “unearth the corruption by the BJP” in the civic bodies. The BJP was in power in the three erstwhile civic bodies (now unified) for 15 years. The AAP leader said the information collected by the team was highlighted by the party through its press conferences.
“Doing press conferences — sometimes up to five a day — was another way to keep the BJP under pressure,” Mr. Pathak said.
“We have around 25,000 WhatsApp groups in Delhi through which we convey various messages to the people,” he said. Every evening, he engaged with his districts in-charge through conference calls to fine-tune the party’s strategy.
He added, “One of our main challenges was the presence of the BJP in each street since they had been in power in the civic bodies for 15 years. They also had a strong connection with the Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs). To break into their strongholds was not easy.” All these factors combined with the CM’s popularity saw them through, he said.
He is the youngest member of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) — the highest decision-making body of the party — and has been associated with Mr. Kejriwal since the India Against Corruption movement.
The AAP leader said that the party’s campaign had reached a crescendo by March, expecting the elections to be held in April. However, with the municipal elections being delayed due to the merger of the three erstwhile civic bodies and the subsequent delimitation exercise, Mr. Pathak said, “We lost crucial momentum. Picking up the cadre and the campaign to fight the elections in December was not easy. But we fought and won.”
Delhi / election
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