Karnataka polls: AAP intends to put up valiant fight but lack of known faces would make party a ‘token presence’

Bengaluru: Electoral success may elude the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but it seems determined to keep trying its luck in every possible political battle. After its recent drubbing in the North East, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party has shifted its focus down south and is confident of making a dent in the Karnataka Assembly election. The state will go to polls on 12 May to vote representatives to the 224-member Assembly.

We are not contesting the state Assembly election just for the sake of contesting, but to win the election,” said a confident AAP co-convener Shivakumar Chengalraya.

This despite the fact that AAP lost in all 28 constituencies in the state during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls — its vote share was a negligible 0.8 percent. Besides, it has no representation in any municipal council, including the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

In Karnataka, AAP is pitching candidates in 18 constituencies, notable among them being Renuka Vishwanathan in Shantinagar, Mohan Dasari in CV Raman Nagar, Santosh Nargund in Hubli-Dharwad Central, and Syed Asad Abbas in BTM Layout and Lingaraj Urs in KR Puram.

“We have already started our election campaign. We have selected the right candidates to contest in the elections. Our candidates have no criminal cases. They are not like the candidates of other political parties,” said AAP Karnataka state convener Prithvi Reddy.

The AAP candidates are ahead of others in canvassing for votes in Bengaluru and other cities. “We have already put up banners and commenced campaigns at public places such as parks and bus stations,” said Dasari.

In Bengaluru district, the AAP candidates are contesting from only nine of the 28 Assembly constituencies. As of now, the campaigning here has been restricted to putting up banners, posters, and meeting voters at parks between 6 am and 9 am.

Urs, the grandnephew of former Karnataka chief minister late Devaraj Urs, said he was looking for the right opportunity and grabbed it when Prithvi Reddy invited him to contest from KR Puram. He is visiting slums along with his supporters to garner support.

“My granduncle, the late Devaraj Urs, worked for the upliftment of poor. I am banking on his charisma to become popular among the slum dwellers,” he said. Urs, a member of Kannamangala Gram Panchayat since 2015, said his focus would be on providing quality education, healthcare, environmental protection, and improving infrastructure.

In closely watched Shantinagar, former IAS officer Renuka Vishwanathan is fighting against Congress MLA NA Haris, who is embroiled in a controversy following his son’s arrest in an assault case.

AAP’s disadvantages: Limited campaign resources, lack of known face in state leadership

The party’s candidates may be hopeful of success and are going all out to woo voters, but they don’t have the manpower or resources that are at the disposal of candidates from major political parties like BJP, Congress, and JD(S).

AAP nominees depend on a handful of volunteers and on donations from public and well-wishers to fund their campaigns, but they are not daunted by this.

“Money and muscle power cannot win elections. Voters are intelligent. They know how to vote for the right candidate. I agree that the Congress candidate won the last election by spending a lot of money. He is ready to spend a huge amount of money this time too, but I am confident the voters will reject him,” said Urs.