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The BJP is frustrated by the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Gujarat and is desperate to undermine a rally in Surat on Sunday by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a Delhi minister has claimed.
Claiming the AAP was changing the political discourse in Gujarat, Delhi Water Minister Kapil Mishra said the people in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state wanted an alternative and the AAP was filling that space.
"We are providing them clean and issue-based politics. This is the reason people in Gujarat are connecting with us," the AAP leader told IANS in an interview.
Mishra said the AAP was determined to fight the assembly elections next year on local issues and not let the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hijack the election agenda.
"BJP always wants that no one should talk about local issues in Gujarat. So time and again they divert the people from real issues.
"This has been a trend in Gujarat. Sometimes they fought elections on the issue of 'Mian Musharraf' or other global matters but they never raised or addressed issues of Gujarat in the assembly elections.
"This time it is different," Mishra said. "We are talking about corruption, unemployment, land acquisition law, the state of traders and businessmen, and the condition of Dalits and tribals."
Mishra, who also holds the tourism portfolio, said the BJP's frustration in Gujarat vis-a-vis the AAP was patently visible. He alleged that BJP activists were busy tearing up AAP posters and bringing down AAP hoardings announcing Kejriwal's October 16 rally at Yogi Ground in Surat.
"This level of frustration comes only when the political battle turns very serious."
Kejriwal will reach Ahmedabad on October 14 evening and will be in Gujarat for the next two days. Besides addressing the Surat rally, he is expected to meet businessmen, farmers and other sections of society.
Mishra said the BJP tried its best to stop an AAP bike rally in Surat last week but could mobilise only about 25 activists. The AAP rally on the other hand drew hundreds of bikes and many more riders.
He said the BJP was also frustrated because its President Amit Shah's rally in Surat on September 8 was disrupted by Patidar leader Hardik Patel's supporters and he could only speak for about four minutes.
"For Arvind's rally, we are getting amazing response. This is making the BJP frustrated. The public will give them a solid answer if they try to create problems at the rally," he added.
According to Mishra, the Congress had ceased to be an effective opposition in Gujarat, where Narendra Modi became Chief Minister in 2001 and held the post until he moved to New Delhi in 2014 as Prime Minister.
"People in Gujarat are fed up with the BJP," Mishra said. "The Congress has lost the will to win there. If we see election data, we see that the BJP's vote share has fallen... It will go down further."
Mishra said the AAP was slowly building its organisation and discussing and understanding the issues of Gujarat.
"We are getting a very good response. This will be Arvind's first big rally in Surat.
"Today, we have an organisational structure including an office in every constituency in Gujarat. We are now preparing our booth-level teams," said Mishra, also a key campaigner in that state. "After Punjab and Goa, Gujarat is the most promising state for us. We will certainly win the assembly elections in Gujarat."
(Ashish Mishra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)