How feud in AAP provides lifeline to SAD-BJP govt?
Chandigarh: The bitter infighting within the Aam Aadmi Party has given new hope to SAD-BJP in Punjab, which, at the beginning of the year, seemed to be down and out.
Badal Government faces acute anti-incumbency after two terms in power — and charges of corruption, lack of jobs for the youth and drug menace from opponents. SAD leaders maintain that AAP was emerging as the main threat and could even have come close to forming a government in Punjab in the elections due in a few months but has been weakened now.
Though Congress has gained ground since Captain Amarinder Singh was again given charge of the party, SAD-BJP assesses that the grand old party is still a long way off from returning to power. “AAP was in a strong position and appeared to be gaining traction among various sections and castes, including Dalits, both in rural and urban areas.
However, Chhotepur quitting the party is a big jolt to AAP. Arvind Kejriwal himself was harbouring hopes of becoming chief minister of Punjab but now it looks difficult,” a senior SAD leader said, preferring anonymity. Leaders from both SAD and BJP are of the view that Chhotepur’s decision to form his own party will benefit them.
He has considerable influence in Gurdaspur, the Malwa and Doab regions in South Punjab. One leader said he may get 3-4% votes and help the coalition by denting AAP. “In a direct fight between Congress and SAD-BJP, any party getting around 43% votes would win the elections but this time the polls will be won by whoever gets around 35% votes,” the SAD leader said.
However, SAD-BJP is aware that the odds are still against it and is making all efforts to salvage the situation. Like his father, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has also started holding Sangat Darshan — where he visits a district and meets locals from adjoining villages to hear their grievances and redress them on the spot with the help of officials travelling with him. “The Akalis control the municipalities in towns and this network should help the party,” a BJP leader said.