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Chandigarh to emulate AAP Delhi model: Gul Panag

Giving credit to volunteers of Aam Admi Party (AAP), Gul Panag, the MP contestant from Chandigarh, feels now is the time to replicate the Delhi model for the city. Though it will constantly evolve and be premised on the needs of city residents, the Delhi win has certainly offered them a host of opportunities to plan a roadmap. A day after the Delhi victory, Gul returned to the city to chart a roadmap for her party here. In an exclusive interview with TOI, she presented her plans

Q1 What all was amiss during Lok Sabha elections that was incorporated as a strategy in Delhi’s assembly elections?
We gave our best in Lok Sabha elections and learnt a lot. We did apply those changes as we offered issue-based campaigning. For instance, there was 90-day campaign called Delhi dialogue, where issues like women safety, water /power matters were discussed with people. For women safety alone, we had held 400 public meetings to understand the problems and made them a part of the manifesto. It was an engagement with the public that designed our manifesto. We stayed away from personal attacks.

Q2 Will you replicate this Delhi model for Chandigarh?
We badly need a working model and now we have an opportunity to apply Delhi’s success model. This model will help us to go to other states as well as the city. We did have an issue-based campaigning earlier, but it was not as extensive as it was in this present assembly election. The model has to constantly evolve based on the ground reality.

Q3 There is lack of cohesiveness in AAP in the city. How will you reorganize the party?
We have room for dissent as opinions of all matters. Unlike conventional political parties, we allow opinions from all. There has not been a grassroot formulation that is only seen during elections. It will take its course. My focus will be on completing the grassroot volunteer organization by July and hold internal party elections. These elections will be observed by observers from the central unit. This is to let the city decide its own organic leadership structure. Our aim is to have 10 volunteers per booth to build volunteer army for outreach. As we have no cadre, we will target capacity building. So, the first priority is to find those volunteers, followed by party elections by June/July. The idea is to groom grassroots level leadership.

Q 4 In your debut elections, you managed to get over lakhs of votes. Your volunteers and people here look for you. In your absence, there is no party activity. How will you expand your voters and how?
I think it’s because of every single volunteer; we managed the third slot last year in the Lok Sabha elections here. People voted for me as I was associated with AAP. We will work on the outreach programme through booth level activities. I will spend 7/10 days a month here and be in touch with my volunteers. However, the starting point is the outreach programme. We will have monthly meetings and not just meet only during the elections. Our manifesto for the city was an important guiding light, but as issues evolve we will work to understand the pulse of the city. Regarding the volunteers and the voters looking for known faces, I think that is changing. We want a system where faces are independent of the issues. The moment you attach face to the issue you encourage personality cult. We want to engage people on the basis of issues, rather.

Q5 Will you focus your attention to Punjab’s election from where the party opened its account of victory?
Pan India road map is not clear yet. It is too early to say. I will refer Yogendra Yadav here who said that there is no need to rush. We must think it through. Punjab again was an unprecedented success and took us all by surprise. The state presents unique set of opportunities and problems but the same strategic paint brush from Delhi cannot be applied. The people there deserve issue-based approach rather than plain rhetoric which all political parties use. I can say this about the state that there will be a massive anti incumbency.

Q6. On a lighter note, what are your plans for the Valentine’s Day?
Those are clear. Arvind will take the oath and we all will be there. I will drive my husband there. After the ceremony is over, I will go out with my husband alone.

Source: timesofindia

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