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In a first, Kejriwal campaigns for AAP mayor candidate in MP

AAP had tried its luck in the 2018 assembly polls, but had drawn a blank

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (File) Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

In a bid to try its luck in Madhya Pradesh - a strongly bipolar state - Aam Aadmi Party forayed into the panchayat and local bodies’ polls being held in the state.

The seriousness of AAP’s intention became evident when AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a road show - first ever election campaign for him in Madhya Pradesh - in Singrauli on Saturday in support of the party’s mayoral candidate, Rani Agrawal.

According to local sources, Agrawal is a strong contender for the mayoral post in the industrial city. She came in a very close third in the 2018 assembly elections, polling 4,000-odd votes short of the winner – BJP's Ramlallu Vaish - and just 813 short of the runner-up – Congress's Renu Shah.

The fact that Kejriwal decided to conduct a road show for Agrawal indicates that the AAP is quite hopeful of a win in Singrauli, which might open up the electoral prospects in Madhya Pradesh for the party that has won Delhi and Punjab assembly polls.

At a public meeting after the road show, Kejriwal invoked the free electricity scheme implemented by the AAP governments in Delhi and Punjab, and added that the party wanted to change the history in Singrauli, too. He said that the budget of the Singrauli Municipal Corporation would be drawn as per the wishes of the people, if Agrawal became the mayor. “We will do all your work. If you say construct a road for us, we would do so; if you say resolve drinking water issues, we would resolve it,” Kejriwal said.

In the poll manifesto, Agrawal has promised 20,000 litres of free drinking water per month for every household and waiving of house tax, apart from many other facilities and amenities.

Keriwal also came down heavily on the BJP and Congress, saying that the two parties had been playing the game of ‘five years for BJP, five years for Congress’ all across the nation. “They have done this setting. But the people of Delhi broke this setting and threw off both the parties,” the Delhi CM said.

He also called for support to the AAP candidates contesting at various levels at various places in the state, underlining that it was an honest and patriotic party that believed in serving people.

AAP tried its luck in the 2018 assembly polls, but had literally drawn a blank, with 207 out of its 208 MLA candidates losing their deposits (there were 230 seats in all). The total vote share for the party came to just 0.66 per cent.

The party’s chief ministerial candidate, social activist Alok Agrawal, polled just 1,654 votes in Bhopal South-West constituency. Only Rani Agrawal in Singrauli had been able to make an impression and that is why the party is hopeful of starting a winning streak there, sources said.

None of the senior AAP leaders campaigned in the 2018 assembly polls. But for the current local bodies' polls, AAP leaders like Atishi, Pankaj Singh, Sanjay Singh and Rajendra Pal Gautam, apart from Kejriwal, have joined the party's electoral campaign.

Agrawal is pitted against BJP’s Chandra Pratap Vishwakarma, former municipal chairman and Arvind Singh Chandel, city Congress president, for the post of mayor.

AAP leader Akshay Hunka said that the party was contesting 14 of 16 mayoral posts, over 2,000 posts of councillors across the state and several posts in the three-tier panchayat polls. “In fact, about 50 of our sarpanch candidates, three district panchayat member candidates and about a dozen janpad panchayat member candidates have won in the first two phases of panchayat polls,” Hunka said. He added that roughly, AAP is contesting 60 per cent of the seats in the local bodies’ polls.

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