5 reasons why AAP is losing momentum in Punjab
AAP was widely expected to comfortably win Punjab elections, even if we discount fantastic claims of winning 100 or more seats by many of its leaders.
However, the Arvind Kejriwal led party is quickly losing the plot. It’s now a close fight between the three main protagonists – BJP_SAD combine, Congress and AAP. Clearly, things could not have been more interesting for pollsters and common folks alike.
Here are the five main reasons AAP has suffered setbacks in Punjab.
There is major turmoil for tickets and influence within the AAP Punjab unit. The bitter infighting within the AAP has given new hope to SAD-BJP in Punjab, which, at the beginning of the year, seemed to be down and out, due to acute anti-incumbency after two full terms in power.
2: Criminal (Corruption & Rape) Charges against Party Leaders:
Dozens of AAP leaders have been accused and many jailed in corruption and rape charges. The list is long – Sharad Chauhan, Naresh Yadav, Somnath Bharti, Manish Sisodia, Amanatullah Khan, Dinesh Mohaniya, Jitendra Singh Tomar, Prakash Jarwal, Manoj Kumar being just some of them. Arvind Kejriwal, in his defence, calls all these cases as vendetta by Narendra Modi against the ‘honest’ party, but some of these crimes are too blatant and heinous to be swept under the conspiracy talk.
3: Sucha Singh Chhotepur
After taking the moral high ground on “zero tolerance to corruption” and sacking Sucha Singh Chhotepur as its Punjab convener unceremoniously following a cash sting, AAP realised that it may be an insider’s coup. Chhotepur had a major role in building AAP in Punjab from scratch. Loss of Chhotepur will hurt AAP, despite the brave talks by its remaining comedian (no pun intended, both are professional comedians) leaders like Bhagwant Mann and Chottepur’s replacement Gurpreet Ghuggi.
4: Navjot Singh Sidhu
AAP has been unable to accommodate the maverick but charismatic Navjot Singh Sidhu, who finally formed a fourth front, Awaaz-e-Punjab, though not yet a political party. Even if Sidhu joins the fray, he may not win many seats this time. However, he could have been a star-campaigner for AAP, getting that extra percentage of votes crucial to winning at least 20-25 seats in Punjab.
5: Outsider label
AAP is led by a highly charismatic but insecure Arvind Kejrwal, surrounded by his Delhi-based coterie, who takes all decisions for everyone in AAP. This has been complaint of party volunteers across India. In Punjab, the charge is more serious as this state has given the party all of its 4 MPs. After Chhotepur’s exit, AAP has few tall Punjabi leaders, prompting Congress Leader Amarinder Singh to call it a party of Delhiwallas and Haryanvis. The accusation resonates with many Punjabis who have no love lost for the Delhi Politicians.
The way the AAP virtually imploded in the past one month has energised the Akali Dal-BJP alliance as well as the Congress. Their leaders are more upbeat about their respective chances in the forthcoming assembly polls. Can Arvind Kejriwal stop the bleeding and win Punjab? Let’s wait and watch.