CHANDIGARH: Is this the end of the road for the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab? Its fortunes have once again taken a serious beating in the state, as being the main opposition party, its candidate came a distant third in the Shahkot bypoll as he managed to poll in only 1,900 votes (632 more than NOTA).
The 62-year-old Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan a Dubai based NRI which the party fielded in this by-poll from Shahkot lost his security deposit as he also lost from his native Kakkar Kalan village. In the assembly elections last year the AAP candidate from here Amarjit Singh Mehatpur had got 41,010 votes.
Singh blamed former party candidate Mehatpur for his loss as he said that he did not work in the constituency after his defeat in last elections so how you can expect we can win, as people left us. But, he claimed that all are united in the party from top to bottom.
"The people of Punjab have not forgiven AAP as it has cheated them as it has been hand in glove with Akali Dal and Arvind kejriwal being seeking apology and getting it from Bikram Majithia was a just a farce and now people have come to know the real face of AAP and also the NRIs have deserted them after they came to know their actual motives, as they preached them alternative politics," said Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said, "Aam Aadmi Party has completely lost the script and was no longer relevant in the country’s political arena. The Shahkot poll had shown that the theatrics and antics of AAP’s Sukhpal Singh Khaira had failed to convince the people of the party’s seriousness."
Amarinder went on to advise AAP to pack its bags and leave Punjab instead of continuing to shame itself with such shocking electoral defeats.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal said that his party retained its vote share in direct contrast AAP faced a total collapse in the by-election with the party barely polling 1.5 per cent of the vote share by polling 1,900 votes, only slightly more than the vote share under NOTA as well as that polled by SAD (Amritsar).
"The state of AAP can be measured from the fact that it did not even open its account in many villages. It has ceased to exist as a political entity in Punjab," he added.
Before the assembly elections last year this rookie party was hoping to form the government in Punjab. But it came a distant second after the results were declared as it has 20 MLAs and is the main opposition party. Since then it has been fourteen months and the internal rivalries, bickering and the party leaders and workers left this sinking ship and joined the ruling Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal as the party is on a downhill slide. This failed to halt in these bypoll also as many party leaders and sympathisers joined the rival political camps as they were poached.
Reacting on the party’s defeat, the co-president of AAP Dr Balbir Singh said that the party will discuss it with the volunteers and office bearers to find out what went wrong against it and will try hard to shun the mistakes made in the past. He said that new plans and strategies will be made to reach out the voters at booth level.
The state president Bhagwant Singh Mann resigned in March this year from his post but his resignation was not accepted. While there are differences between him and leader of opposition and senior AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
Khaira only came twice for campaigning and Mann came once only that also for roadshow. Hardly big leader from the party campaigned of Singh in these bypolls.
In the recent municipal corporation elections of Jalandhar, Amritsar, and Patiala the party only fielded 149 candidates out of total of 225 wards in these municipalities and could not even win a single seat. In the elections of 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats, the party could only win one ward out of 414 wards in these municipalities that also in Bholath the constituency represented by Khaira.
The ruling congress won the municipal elections and the SAD-BJP combine came second, as in the assembly election the combine was pushed to the third slot. But it came up with a comparatively better performance, both in the local polls as well as the recent Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll. In Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by poll last year the performance of AAP was pathetic as it’s candidate Major Gen (Retd) Suresh Khajuria, could only poll only 23,579 votes and thus came a distant third and also lost his deposit.
It is an open secret that there is friction between the Punjab and Delhi leadership of the party and the gap is widening as the state leadership wants autonomy. The main opposition party giving such a dismal performance is a matter of major concern and amid such a scenario, AAP needs to put its house in order at the earliest. It needs to boost the morale of its cadres at the earliest if it wants to come up with a decent performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The future of AAP that had won from Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Patiala garnering 25 per cent of vote share in the 2014 general elections, is in the shambles, as Arvind Kejriwal’s credibility that has come under question now after he apologised to Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia in defamation case.
Not all has been going well for AAP, in August 2015 two of it’s four MPs Dhramvir Gandhi from Patiala and Harinder Singh Khalsa were suspended for anti-party activates and now they are in no mood to patch up with the party leadership.