AAP opens its LS account from Punjab

AAP opens its LS account from Punjab

Election results in the border state of Punjab on Friday demonstrated an anticlimax of sorts to the Modi-wave that swept the nation on the day of poll results. No single party in the state won a decisive mandate.

The ruling incumbent alliance of the Akali Dal and the BJP could at best increase its combined tally by one seat this time by winning six, including two for the BJP, of the 13 Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress showed a dismal performance winning just three seats, down from eight last time. But it left the ruling alliance, particularly the Badal-led SAD, red-faced with Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh defeating senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, fighting his debut Lok Sabha election, by a margin exceeding over one lakh votes.

The AAP performed exceedingly well in Punjab opening its account by winning 4 seats. Punjab is the lone state where the AAP won seats. In Sangrur, its candidate, a comedian-turned politician, Bhagwant Mann, won by a margin of over one lakh votes against the SAD’s Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. In Patiala, the AAP candidate Dr Dhara Vira Gandhi defeated Union Minister Preneet Kaur, who is also Captain Amarinder’s wife.

Even as the SAD bagged 6 seats, senior party leader Naresh Gujral admitted there was some anger against the party in Punjab and suitable course corrections will be made. Another union minister of the Congress, Ambika Soni, also tasted defeat in Anandpur  Sahib. Former Congress Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, associated with the infamous coal scam, also lost his seat to BJP’s Kirron Kher.

Another actor-politician, Vinod Khanna, won the Gurdaspur seat for the BJP with a huge margin of over 1.36 lakh votes defeating Congress state President Partap Singh Bajwa.

Jaitley’s defeat at the hands of former CM Capt Amarinder Singh is significant and its ramifications far-reaching. It reaffirms Capt Amarinder’s dominance in the state and within his own party. The Congress could use Jaitley’s defeat as a ground to morally dissuade him from accepting a ministerial berth.

The alliance of the SAD-BJP may come under some strain following Jaitley’s defeat. Jaitley’s decision to contest from the holy city of Amritsar was not just based on feedback from the alliance that the seat was ‘safe and winnable’, but on the basis of repeated assertions from SAD leaders assuring him a victory.

The defeat could also cloud the prospects of cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who refused to campaign for Jaitley after being unceremoniously denied the seat. Jaitley lost hugely in segments represented by senior BJP leaders including Cabinet minister Anil Joshi and Sidhu’s wife Dr Navjot Kaur. Joshi has already sent in his resignation to the party chief.

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