NEW DELHI: The eleventh-hour replacement of Congress CM in Punjab could upset the Aam Aadmi Party's poll plans for the state.
As Punjab got its first ever Scheduled Caste Sikh CM, the task for AAP of winning the assembly election in the state might get tougher. For the last one year, the AAP has been making moves to present the best alternative to voters.
Hoping to make inroads, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has time and again put his entire weight behind the farmers' protest. Further, to have an edge over other parties, Kejriwal went to the state last month and announced 300 units of free electricity among other doles, if voted to power. In addition, the party was also hoping to cash in the tussle between Navjot Singh Siddhu and Amarinder Singh.
Political observers, however, point out a few key challenges for the AAP. The party had bagged a good share of votes from SC voters in the state in 2017.
The new CM, Charanjit Singh Channi, belongs to the same community and this makes the fight tougher for AAP. Of its 23.7 per cent vote share, Hindu SC voters constituted 21 per cent, while Dalit SC voters constituted 19 per cent in 2017, according to CSDS, a research institute in social sciences.
Swiftly puncturing the hopes of AAP, CM Channi, taking a leaf out of AAP's strategy book, while making his first announcement, said the government will waive off all the pending water bills and that his government is the "real Aam Aadmi"; as an apparent dig at AAP.
This has increased the worries of AAP, which suspects that Channi might announce many more such measures leaving no edge for it.
In a situation like this, AAP finds itself helpless as it does not have enough ammunition to go against a new face. Also, going against Channi could be perceived as going against the SC community, which the AAP does not want.
Also, the AAP has not been able to finalise on a CM candidate. The party, which has already faced a vehement infighting in the Punjab unit in the past, is again finding itself in a tight spot now.