Varanasi: The challenge thrown by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal before Narendra Modi is part of the party`s larger game plan to woo Muslims voters in Uttar Pradesh and across the country as it looks to bag the anti-BJP votes which would otherwise go to other "secular" parties.
"When Arvind takes on (BJP`s prime ministerial candidate) Modi, it will be a highly polarised battle between the parties which is likely to benefit AAP as he would be seen as the only leader who is taking Modi head on.”
"Although BJP will end up getting its seats, the losers will be Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress as all the minorities will see AAP as championing their cause," said an AAP source.
"The real impact will be on these parties as AAP has been banking on minority votes, especially when the Muzzafarnagar riots is still fresh in the minds of the people here," the source added.
BJP was aware that to get the maximum seats in UP, it was essential for Modi to contest from the state as that would send out a strong message among the voters here.
That AAP, too, is eyeing a big chunk of votes in UP is evident in Kejriwal`s decision to take on Modi.
The party feels that such a political move would not only resonate within the state, but across the country, especially in states like Delhi, Haryana and Punjab where AAP has considerable influence among the minorities.
In UP, almost all seats have a Muslim population of over 15-20 percent while in some constituencies in Delhi, the minority section makes up about 20-22 percent of the population.
"We are making a gamble in UP. If it works and our political equation clicks, then we can even cross 30 (seats), if it doesn`t, we might just get five seats.”
"Muslims are upset with SP, BSP and Congress and see us as an option not only in UP, but also in Congress," the source added.
The party has also been focusing on seats held by SP, BSP and Congress and hoping that the anti-incumbency factor works in respect of the central and state governments.
"(Kejriwal) has been careful not to target Modi on the 2002 Gujarat riots as that would be (following) other parties` tactics which did not impact Modi but boomeranged.”
"(Kejriwal) has been targeting Modi and BJP indirectly by talking about communalism and not referring to the Gujarat riots as a stand-alone case. He is also targeting Modi on the Reliance gas issue," the source added.
For instance, in his speech at a rally in Kanpur early this month, Kejriwal raked up the issue of communalism and riots and charged that political parties engineered riots to polarise the situation.
"After the riots, Muslims sit on SP`s lap and hold Congress`s hand while Hindus stand behind BJP. Riots happen just before elections, so these parties come to power and loot for five more years," he had said.
At the recent Varanasi rally, he claimed that if Modi came to power, people like his close confidant Amit Shah would become Home Minister and those involved in Muzzafaranagar riots would become `communal harmony` ministers.
At a seminar of Muslims in Delhi early this month, Kejriwal had urged the minority community to join him in his battle against Modi.