Narmada Bachao Andolan and AAP: A match made in rural heaven?

On Monday, the National Alliance for People's Movements and Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) announced that it had would ally with the Aam Aadmi Party.

“We have studied their (AAP’s) documents and we have found that micro to macro-economic view point is more or less reflected in it. We will further continue with the dialogue and would like to contribute our views in not just the manifesto but also in the working culture and their working documents,” Patkar said, while announcing the alliance.

For AAP, this alliance is likely to boost its position in rural India, given that Narmada Bachao Andolan has been active in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh for nearly 25 years.

But how exactly this alliance will play out in the Lok Sabha elections is yet to be decided.

 Narmada Bachao Andolan and AAP: A match made in rural heaven?

Patkar announced the alliance with AAP this week. PTI

“The final strategy is still to be decided. But given that we have decided to go all out in the national elections, we can’t call ourselves a national party without going for a strong rural push. We have to reach out to 60 percent of the country’s population as well,” AAP leader Pankaj Gupta told Firstpost.

Mayank Gandhi, an AAP leader from Maharashtra, pointed out that the party has a strong wave of support in rural Maharashtra.

"The support in rural Maharashtra has been tremendous. I myself was surprised by the kind of support our meetings have got," Gandhi said.

It's still not clear whether persons associated with the NBA movement will be contesting on a AAP ticket.

"Discussions regarding that will be finalised on 16 and 17 January. However there is no doubt that there are some very good activists with the movement who have been working for so many years. The party would be happy to see them contest,” Gandhi said.

As far as the NBA is concerned, post its alliance with AAP, it is hoping to take its fight of 25 years into active politics.

According to NBA leader Alok Agarwal, the decision to join AAP will see expansion of the AAP message into rural and adivasi parts of India.

"I want to stand for elections from Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh. Of course it will be for the AAP to decide on the ticket but I have formally joined the party,” Agarwal said.

He said that the NBA’s individual identity will remain separate from that of the AAP but the movement will help spread the message of the party in every village.

"We are entering active politics and will now campaign for the AAP in every village," he said.

Agarwal was also confident about support in rural parties for the AAP.

"There is a lot of growing supporting. AAP is an idea that wants to change politics and empower the common man to enter politics. We will go and spread that idea further," he said. There is will also be a special emphasis on Adivasi areas, he added.

Post the alliance AAP is also likely to try and challenge the idea that it is a middle-class urban phenomena. Party leaders also don’t think that an alliance with NBA will turn away middle-class voters.

"We all believe in various ideologies. However I don’t think that because one person joins, the party’s way of thinking will get changed drastically. We are for the aam aadmi and we will continue to support that message,”Gupta said.

Gandhi pointed out that the party enjoyed support with lower classes even in Delhi.

"I completely disagree that we are an urban middle-class party. In Delhi too you must have seen lots of Dalits, lower classes, etc voted for AAP. We are seeing strong support in rural areas as well and among the disadvantaged groups," he said.

Some, like Agarwal, believe the NBA’s credibility will be a boost for the party.

"AAP does have support in the rural areas. As far as NBA is concerned, it has been working and fighting for this issue for the last 25 years. We have a certain credibility which I think will strengthen AAP’s overall image," he said.

Updated Date: Jan 15, 2014 20:13:55 IST