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AAP ‘Left tilt’ lifts BJP hope

AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and (right) Yogendra Yadav at a news conference in Ghaziabad on Thursday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Jan. 16: The BJP views several policies and leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as having a “Leftward tilt”, and believes the streak will help the main Opposition party by sharpening battle lines.

The AAP’s “Leftism”, BJP sources said, will help distinguish their party from rivals and enable it to appropriate much of the political space sprawled on the other side of the divide ahead of this summer’s national elections.

Increasingly, the sources said, the BJP will stress on high growth, infrastructure investments, fiscal deficit cuts and jobs.

The BJP will also speak about subsidies and tax simplification and reaffirm opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail — echoing some pet themes of the Left.

But this, the sources said, is aimed at placating “a quasi-Left stream” flowing through the “Sangh parivar”. This school of thought advocates a nebulous model of “swadeshi economics” that rejects foreign investments but supports laissez faire policies for domestic industrialists.

Narendra Modi is not hewed to the Left’s economic ideals such as state handouts and public spending to help the impoverished. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is learnt to be against subsidies and, instead, holds up the Gujarat model as an example of how benefits of growth inevitably percolate down to the poor.

A BJP source pointed to another factor — that “Leftism” is “not just about economic notions and theories” but is also related to the minority-majority question.

“Somehow in the minds of Left sympathisers, Leftism is as much about opposition to FDI and privatisation as about secularism and communalism. Right-wing ideology to them conflates endorsements for FDI and economic reforms in general with anti-minorityism, although this is not necessarily accurate,” the source said.

BJP leaders reckon that the AAP’s focus on subsidies, freebies — the party’s government in Delhi has slashed power and water charges — and secularism will push out of the frame the single-point agenda Arvind Kejriwal-led party had started with: corruption, especially of the Congress variety.

“As long as the AAP's focus was only on corruption, we were tripped because the spokespersons brought up the allegations against (B.S.) Yeddyurappa (the former Karnataka chief minister who had to resign on graft charges). We were forced to be defensive,” a BJP source said.

AAP newbies and some members of its core team are largely seen as representing the Left-Socialist school of thought.

One senior AAP leader, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, articulated a line on Kashmir that was promptly painted “anti-national” by the Sangh. Bhushan favoured a referendum in the Valley on army deployment for internal security.

Pollster and researcher Yogendra Yadav and Ajit Jha have socialist antecedents. Medha Patkar, who has offered support but has yet to become an AAP member, is best known as a rights campaigner for Narmada dam oustees.

Gopal Rai was associated with the Far Left All India Students’ Association at Allahabad University.

Binayak Sen, out on bail from the Supreme Court on charges of sedition and helping Maoists, is a member of an AAP policy group on police reforms while his wife Ilina is a national “ombudsman” for the party.