Allahabad: Adding a new angle to what has turned into an extremely competitive multi-cornered fight in Allahabad is the entry of AAP into the poll fray with its nomination of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s grandson, Adarsh, from the seat.
Banking heavily on his grandfather’s legacy and the ‘jhadu’, AAP’s party symbol that has managed to enter the political consciousness of voters in Uttar Pradesh with its highly charged contests in Amethi and Varanasi, Adarsh Shastri has been running a tireless campaign in the face of additional challenges of limited time and the absence of a local party network.
Shastri was joined on Sunday by AAP leader Yogendra Yadav on his final leg of campaigning.
Speaking about the challenge AAP faces in Uttar Pradesh, Yadav said, “In a state like UP, the going is much more tough for us. We have to break through established equations. However, the advantage in an already quadrangular contest is that the threshold of victory is very low.
In Delhi you cannot win without getting 35-40 percent of the vote. Here, you can win with 25 percent of the vote. But, of course, that too will take time. The other advantage is that people have tried all other parties. The challenge for us to emerge as a credible alternative and that will take time. It a big challenge for us and the battle is long.”
Shastri quit his job at Apple to join AAP in December. Describing Allahabad as a ‘key seat’ for AAP, Shastri says he believes this seat will be ‘message to the country’.
Firstpost spoke to Shastri about AAP’s impact in Allahabad and whether his political legacy was cutting any ice with voters.
Excerpts from the Interview:
On the campaign:
We are putting up a very strong fight. In the last 30 days, we have been able to build this campaign and this team of volunteers from scratch. The kind of affection and respect we are getting from the people of Allahabad is unprecedented for me. Though there is an association of my grandfather Lal Bahadur Shashtri with Allahabad, I didn’t expect this kind of association.
More importantly, the support I am getting from rural areas - Allahabad is largely a rural constituency - is even more surprising. I expected there would be more awareness in urban areas. But it is the rural areas where there is far greater support in terms of people understanding that the political system has only fooled them so far.
On AAP’s strategy
I am going to every village, every town and every mohalla. Personally, I have visited 60 towns in Allahabad, covered all the major mohallas. I’m going door-to-door, shop-to-shop telling people that this time they should vote for change.
In my campaign speeches, I remind people of promises the other candidates had made. Between the four of them they have represented nine different parties. People need to think about what they want.
Yogendra Yadav is here on my special request. He epitomises the integrity AAP stands for. Allahabad is one of the key seats. We want Allahabad to be the message in the country. Allahabad has woken up and is ready for change.
On the resonance his grandfather’s legacy has with voters
Huge. He represented Allahabad in three elections. And his political activities before Independence were based out of Allahabad.
Everywhere I go people say that the last progress that they saw - be it a bridge or dam - is what Lal Bahadur Shastri gave to Allahabad and they are now expecting the same for me. And I am hoping to live up to their expectation and on delivering more than what my grandfather did.
On the decision to enter politics
It was an emotional decision. I was heading Apple in India. It was a tough decision for me and my family. Corporate life is a different world. And here in the heat and dust of the villages of Allahabad, Real India is a different life.
But this is something I always wanted to do. This is my commitment to the country. I need to give back in return for what the country has given me and many others like me.
I have always been coming to Allahabad. I used to be here every couple of months. I was very much aware of the situation here. The only thing was that politically I was not active. I feel this is what I should have done a long time ago.
On the campaign experience
It has been very humbling in the sense of the kind of love and affection that I am getting because of my grandfather.
Secondly, there is an unprecedented love and excitement about honesty in politics and it is running through the entire constituency and it will lead us to an unprecedented result.
On breaking the hold of caste-based voting patterns
It is breaking due to the awareness of the common man. I am not breaking it. The common man is becoming aware and he is breaking out of it. He is realising that we need to get a party, a government and politicians who will work for people irrespective caste or religion. That is what is changing.
On fighting against the Congress
I tell people that Shastriji was connected to a philosophy, to an ideology which was honesty, integrity in politics, patriotism, love for the country and self-respect. That ideology today is represented by the Arvind Kejriwal and AAP. In fact, I tell people that if Shastriji was alive today he would have been in AAP.
On his father being a Congressman
That is his personal choice. I cannot comment on that. As a son, I took his blessings. Apart from that politically, we are on different ends of the ideological spectrum.
On his chances
I will win. Absolutely.
Updated Date: May 05, 2014 18:54 PM