NEW DELHI: With its landslide victory in Punjab assembly polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has achieved a major milestone in its journey so far and emerged as an alternative in the national politics.
The party won 92 seats in Punjab, decimating its closest rival Congress to form its government in the state with a three-fourth majority in the 117-member legislative assembly.
The strong AAP wave in Punjab saw many bigwigs trailing and losing -- including Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Congress leader and Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi from both the seats he contested, Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur, former chief minister Amarinder Singh who left the Congress to join hands with the BJP, and Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The party also gained some toe hold in Goa winning two seats in the 40-member state legislative assembly, though it could not open its account in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The AAP had contested on all seats in Punjab, Goa, Uttarkhand and Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, seeking to expand its base beyond Delhi and achieve its stated ambition to become a dominant force in national politics.
Buoyed by its performance in Punjab assembly polls, the party is now aiming to expand its base in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The party will contest the assembly elections in these two states to beheld next year.
With focus on Gujarat, party plans to hold Punjab victory march in BJP-ruled Gujarat, AAP sources said.
Born out of 2011 anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, the party looks to play a major role in the national politics following its emphatic victory in Punjab assembly polls, with the AAP leaders projecting the party's national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The political observers feels that the meteoric rise of the AAP within a decade of its formation will reinforce its status as a challenger to the Congress and the BJP in coming months, provided it lives up to the expectations of people of Punjab, provide a clean government in the state, and fulfil the promises that it made during elections.
The party's support to the farmers' agitation against three-farm laws last year, its Delhi model of governance and internal feud in Congress in Punjab led to its victory in Punjab, according to the poll analysts.
"With its victory in Punjab, the AAP has become the only regional party and third party in the country which will have its government in two states. Other two are the BJP and the Congress," noted political analyst and co-director of Lokniti-CSDS Sanjay Kumar told PTI when asked for his comments.
The AAP will become visible to the voters as an alternative with the party also gaining a toehold in Goa, he said.
"In coming days, party will start seeing the party as an alternative if it provides a clean government in Punjab and make a visible impact with its work as it did in Delhi," he added.
The people of Punjab have given their mandate to AAP and voted for change, looking at the work done by its government in Delhi, particularly in education and healthcare sectors, Kumar said.
"While the Congress could not gain faith of the people due to internal feud in the party, Akalis (SAD) also could not attract the electors as they had not done anything special during its regime in past.
In such a situation, the AAP was seen as an alternative and people decided to give it a chance," he added.
Kejriwal and others formed the AAP in 2012, making an exit from the 2011 anti-corruption movement following differences with Anna Hazare and made its debut in electoral politics winning 28 out of 70 seats in Delhi Assembly, and formed its government under Chief Minister Kejriwal with outside support of the Congress in December 2013.
After failing to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill due to lack of numbers in the Delhi Assembly, Kejriwal resigned as chief minister in February 2014 to seek a fresh and full mandate.
Before the re-election in Delhi could be held, the AAP contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and won four seats -- all from Punjab.
The party recorded a landslide victory in 2015 Delhi assembly polls winning 67 out of a total 70 seats, with a record vote share of 54 per cent and formed its government.
The AAP created a history once again by winning 62 out of 70 seats in 2020 Delhi assembly polls.