Drug abuse to dominate AAP campaign in Punjab

The Aam Aadmi Party plans to leverage its election campaign in border state Punjab on the issue of drug menace and farmer suicides. 

Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal is scheduled to visit Punjab sometime next week. Punjab goes to assembly polls in less than a year from now. His visit to Punjab is being seen as the start of his party’s ‘Punjab dialogue’ agenda, something on similar lines to what Kejriwal’s AAP had undertaken in the run up to the Delhi assembly election in a bid to engage and connect with the people in formulating a manifesto for the elections. 

The drug issue had been AAP’s trump card in the Lok Sabha elections. The party went to town citing the rampant drug abuse in the state. Its aggressive campaigning connected well with the people of Punjab. And while the AAP drew a complete blank from across the country, the only four MP seats it bagged in the elections were from Punjab. 

But the issue of drugs no longer remains the sole domain of the AAP. The ruling SAD-BJP combine as well as the principal opposition party Congress have been quick to claim ownership of the drug issue with each party now pledging to root out the menace from Punjab.

The AAP is battling serious internal decay in Punjab, with half of its MP drifting away. The AAP has suspended two of its MP. The party is looking for a face for the election campaign, even to project someone as the chief minister. 

The grapevine has it that the disgruntled BJP leader and former cricketer and MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur, a BJP MLA from Punjab, could join hands with AAP. Kaur has openly said she would not be contesting the upcoming elections if the BJP continues its alliance with the Akali Dal. Party sources said, the ‘Punjab dialogue’ of sorts will set the turf for inclusion of people-oriented issues in the manifesto.

 For AAP to take on the might of the Congress or the incumbents, it would have to position itself on a different election campaign agenda. The AAP on Monday also accused both the Congress and ruling combine for virtually ruining the education system in Punjab. The AAP vowed to implement a comprehensive educational policy in the state to make it adequate and job oriented, AAP MP Professor Sadhu Singh said. 

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