Despite being a new entrant in the murky world of politics, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas has been grabbing headlines for both good and bad reasons.
After the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which recently made a spectacular début in the recently concluded assembly polls in Delhi, announced its plans to contest the upcoming General Election in as many as 300 seats in all major states, Kumar Vishwas was quick in declaring that he will contest Lok Sabha election against none other than Congress` Yuvraj and, in all probability, its PM candidate Rahul Gandhi in the latter`s constituency Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
And if this was not enough, AAP`s loudmouth leader went on to say that he is ready to take on Rahul Gandhi from where ever he contests, leave alone Amethi. The poet-turned-politician addressed his party’s first Lok Sabha rally in Amethi on Sunday and challenged to crush the `arrogance` of the Congress’ PM-in-waiting and attacked the Grand Old Party for its dynasty politics.
For some, the AAP leader`s open challenge to Rahul Gandhi may appear too unconvincing and preposterous, but given the prevailing public resentment again the Congress leadership - as evident in the party`s defeat in four of five major states, which went to polls - nothing can be ruled out.
But whatever one says, storming Amethi - Congress` traditional stronghold- will not be a cakewalk for AAP and Kumar Vishwas either. An indication in this regard came when AAP leader`s cavalcade cavalcade was greeted with sloganeering, stones pelting, ink throwing and black flags as it made its way to Amethi.
Among the protesters were also those who strictly opposed Kumar Vishwas` adverse comments on Islam and on a Muharram procession.
Despite few unwelcoming gestures, which AAP said it isn’t scared of, the turnout of around 10,000 people at party’s maiden public rally in Uttar Pradesh, where it’s planning to contest all 80 seats, gave a major boost to the party.
Notably, a significant number of people came from the nearby areas to Amethi in the vehicles used to ferry them to the rally venue. If you listen to the speeches made by the AAP leaders, Vishwas and Sanjay Singh, you will come to know that the focus was mainly at bashing the Congress, Rahul in particular.
Barring few occasions, where its leaders brought up issues like NREGA, poor infrastructure in the district and attacked that the Planning Commission for its faulty assessment of poverty according to which the poor can survive on just Rs 26 per day, there was very little mentioning of what AAP had in store for the people in this vast constituency.
With jokes and sarcasms directed at the Congress party, AAP leaders did manage to entertain the crowd but this alone will not turn into votes and enable the new political outfit to emerge as a worthy alternative to Congress and the BJP for the voters in Amethi in the General Elections.
And there is a reason for that.
This rural constituency is much different from Delhi, where AAP managed to come to power riding high on its anti-corruption plank. Here, Kumar and company will have to work very hard to build trust with the villagers many of whom have heard the party`s name for the first time and don`t have much idea of current discourse of national politics, as shown by TV reports.
Kumar Vishwas needs to understand that most of the voters in Amethi are from the rural areas who are mainly concerned about ways to earn their daily bread and butter. Amethi has for long been a Congress citadel, and in order to be able to make a dent in it, Kumar and his supporters will have to sense people`s nerve, offer something unique that appeals them, build an emotional connect to be able to erase Congress from their mind.
Showing courage to contest elections against Rahul,Gandhi and actually defeating him are two different things. After AAP`s spectacular performance in Delhi, the Congress has already started taking the party very seriously and will not spare any efforts in neutralising the AAP`s attempt to make in roads into its prestigious Lok Sabha constituency.
The poet-turned-politician might be enjoying a huge fan following on social networking sites, but this alone can not guarantee him a sure win against someone who is the Congress` biggest bet in he next General Elections.
Kumar needs to stop singing about Rahul Gandhi’s much-publicised stay at a Dalit’s house and get down to the grass root level to connect with the aam aadmi and its actual worries. Kumar will have to ensure the poor in Amethi that his party can bring spiralling prices under control, create more job opportunities, provide better civic amenities and other social security measures which can make a difference in their lives.
Mere big head counts in AAP rallies or good response to its policies on networking websites will not serve the purpose for Kumar Vishwas. He needs to get off the stage and reach out to the displeased people and listen to their problems only then will they listen to him, or else his appeal to vote for a ‘naukar’ (servant) this time will go in vain. He should also take Congress leader and Union Minister Rajiv Shukla`s comments that “Kumar needs to look beyond Rahul Gandhi” as a valuable and timely advice if he actually intends to beat Rahul Gandhi on his own turf where he has even invited BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to contest.