Punjab diversion cost AAP dear, even Kejriwal thinks so

Party volunteers agreed that there is a feeling among general public that Arvind Kejriwal should not have shifted his focus from Delhi to Punjab.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (File | PTI)
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (File | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Defeat in the Delhi Assembly’s Rajouri Garden  byelection has left Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers shattered even as the party’s senior leadership tried to spin it as a minor hiccup that will not have a bearing on the upcoming elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

On Friday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the people of Rajouri Garden were angry with the party for allowing the incumbent MLA Jarnail Singh to abandon his seat mid-way in the term in order to contest the Assembly elections Punjab. “People were angry that Jarnail singh went to Punjab. We have received feedback and will try to make people understand our stance,” he said.

However, opinion among party volunteers is that it was a mistake for Kejriwal himself to have shifted his focus from Delhi to Punjab. “People started feeling cheated when Arvind Kejriwal, the face of the party, shifted his focus to Punjab. Thereafter, (deputy chief minister) Manish Sisodia’a statement suggesting that Kejriwal was the party’s candidate for the Punjab chief minister’s post did further damage. One can see this in the steep fall in the number of voters we got in Rajouri Garden,” said one  volunteer.

The Aam Aadmi Party bagged just 10,243 votes (13 per cent) in the byelection, a huge comedown from the 54,916 votes (46.55 per cent) it won in 2015.

The AAP workers said signs of the Congress regaining its strength in Delhi are worrisome to their party. The Congress took 33 per cent of the vote in Rajouri Garden to finish second to the BJP. It had fallen to a mere 13 per cent in 2015.

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The New Indian Express