Lucknow: Politics is all about symbolism. None realises better than the Aam Aadmi Party the optics that go with starting an election campaign from Ayodhya.
Craftily hailed as the ‘Tiranga’ Yatra, the AAP also had no inhibition appropriating the BJP’s twin poll planks – it has seductively promised the electorate in UP "real nationalism" and, for the first time, "Ram Rajya."
While flagging off the Yatra, deputy chief minister of Delhi and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodiya said that Arvind Kejriwal was the only chief minister in the country who was running the government by adhering to the tenets of Lord Ram. The AAP government, too, will adhere to his teachings.
Given its penchant for tamasha, before the Yatra, the AAP leaders met a large number of saints and seers in Ayodhya and sought their blessings. Later, the leaders, while addressing party workers, harped on the fraudulent temple land deals.
Large crowds turned up at the party rally in Faizabad, the 'twin town' of Ayodhya; the rally was led by Sisodiya and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh. On Monday both leaders had hopped from temple to temple in Ayodhya, visiting even the site of the under-construction Ram Temple and the Hanumangarhi temple.
The AAP – perceived by some detractors as a softer option to the BJP - has also stressed this does not make them the ruling party's 'B team' - a label it appended to the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, when Harish Rawat said the party would try to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya if successful at the polls, adds an NDTV report.
"Ayodhya depicts the history and sentiments of people across the country. We believe in 'Ram Rajya' in the true essence... we are anything but the 'B Team' of the BJP. We believe in giving the voters exactly what they deserve," Huda Zariwala, a state spokesperson for the AAP told NDTV, when asked if evoking nationalism could make the party's campaign any different from that of the BJP.
Next year's election will be the AAP's first splash in UP state polls.
The party did contest the 2014 general election but received a rude jolt - Arvind Kejriwal lost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (in Varanasi) and Kumar Vishwas was beaten by Rahul Gandhi (in Amethi).