The political tremors of the alleged liquor scam in Delhi are felt more in Gujarat than where it originated. The BJP and the AAP are involved in a bitter slugfest over the issue in election-bound Gujarat. The state BJP has gone the whole hog to portray the AAP as a party run with cash from corrupt deals. The AAP claims its increasing popularity in Gujarat is why its ministers in Delhi are being raided and charge-sheeted. The AAP has launched a shrill campaign in Gujarat. Its plan to enter the state’s tribal areas in alliance with the Bharatiya Tribal Party did not work. Still, Kejriwal is drawing crowds in urban centres, especially in Surat and Ahmedabad. The two districts are BJP strongholds and account for 28 of 182 constituencies. Arvind Kejriwal had recently announced that the surveys conducted by his party show the AAP leading in seven seats in Surat where the party had won its first municipal seat. He said his party’s tally would improve further as campaigning picks up. The AAP campaign has sent alarm bells ringing in the BJP.
The ruling party’s margin of victory against the main opposition party—the Congress—was thin, and many of its seats came from urban areas. Despite being out of power in the state for decades, the Congress continues to enjoy considerable support in the rural areas of Gujarat. With the Congress holding fort in rural Gujarat, and Kejriwal launching an onslaught on the BJP’s urban citadel, the ruling party has its hands full trying to defend its stronghold. The ruling party’s attack is focused more on the AAP than on the Congress. The fight between the two parties will get dirtier as the state election gets closer.
The Enforcement Directorate has already arrested Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain and it is only a matter of time before another minister, Manish Sisodia, is arrested. Sisodia is the minister of finance and excise, the two departments directly connected with the formulation and implementation of the new liquor policy in Delhi. He is also the second most important person in the AAP as deputy chief minister in the Kejriwal government. With relentless raids on scores of locations, the ED is said to have gathered evidence against Sisodia. His arrest will be the BJP’s big play in the Gujarat election.