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AAP forces state Congress to rethink its strategy

The astounding victory by first-timer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has shook up everyone in political circles. While the Congress was voted out of power in Delhi, the Congress government in Maharashtra too is racking its brains over its strategy with respect to coalition partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the opposition parties.


Members of Aam Aadmi Party celebrate their victory at Azad Maidan on Sunday

The challenge put up by AAP has been aggravated further, with social crusader Anna Hazare’s decision to undertake an indefinite hunger strike at his hometown Ralegan Siddhi for the Jan Lokpal bill. “The CM will have to keep an eye on this agitation and the state administration will be on its toes,” said sources from the government.


MiD DAY report on AAP’s agenda for Mumbai. Pic/Shadab Khan

Meanwhile, the AAP is gearing up to take on bigwigs in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane, a belt with 60 state assembly seats and 10 Lok Sabha seats. AAP and India Against Corruption (IAC) have been systematically collecting crucial data about highly controversial issues from this region.

Reacting on the poll outcomes on Sunday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “We will have to change the party strategy in view of the coming elections.” Chavan also had a brief meeting with Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Manikrao Thakre and senior leaders of the party at Nagpur, where the state legislature is in session.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar delivered a blow with his terse reaction to the Delhi polls and his apparent dig at the UPA leadership. Taking a dig at the Congress leadership, Pawar said people don’t like weak leaders and wanted strong rulers who will ensure effective measures and also have the capacity to implement decisions taken. Pawar had asserted the role of the youth in the electoral defeat for the Congress and their anger having been reflected through ballot.

Relations between NCP and Congress have been strained of late in the state. “Pawar and his ministers are having strong reservations about the working style of CM Chavan. He will have to change his strategy to deal with us,” commented an office bearer of the NCP on condition of anonymity.

Congress members also agreed that apart from other issues, Chavan would have to speed up reforms in civic bodies, where public anger is at its peak over chaos in water supply, clearance of building proposals, encroachments, changes in reservations, land grabbing in major towns and cities, inflation etc. MiD DAY had reported that AAP too was focussing on the issues of land encroachment, housing, electricity and water shortage (‘Mission Mumbai on AAP’s agenda, December 9).

Chavan has undertaken several reforms to improve present systems at government offices. Usage of information technology in delivery of government services is high on his agenda. In order to attract urban middle-class voters, effective implementation of food safety, creation of affordable housing stock through MHADA, and smooth process of redevelopment with utmost transparency are the steps being taken, Congress members told MiD DAY.

“Besides, reforms in the revenue department that endorse property transactions and registrations, implementation of direct transfer of cash subsidy and efforts to control corruption in government offices can help the party win the confidence of the common man, who is fast being alienated from the party, and to counter opposition’s strategy,” added partymen.

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