Aiming bull's eye, 'overrated' AAP misses the target

Aiming bull's eye, 'overrated' AAP misses the target

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emerged as the second largest party in Punjab even as its hope and projections on winning majority of seats in a triangular contest went completely  haywire.

This was the first Assembly election AAP fought outside Delhi. But regardless of the fact that the Congress knocked off the AAP in the joust for power, the AAP has left noticeable footprints on the political canvas of Punjab. The party is here to stay.

In majority of Assembly segments in Punjab, the AAP was first runner-up, eating into the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) vote share. No third front has succeeded electorally in this state. With 20 MLAs in its kitty, AAP will have some reason to cheer, and perhaps more to introspect over its flawed perception of groundswell of  voters in its favour in Punjab.

AAP has certain clear advantages, but its disadvantages weighed down equally. The AAP carried no historical baggage, which in fact cut both ways. The party fell off the mark and suffered on account of its uneven spread in regions, population and popularity. Its top leaders, including Bhagwant Mann and former Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh lost.

It handed over the reigns to outsiders and paratroopers from New Delhi who failed to read Punjab’s political dynamics in entirety. After months of dialogue with former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, the AAP failed to get the former cricketer on board.

Sidhu’s clout
It cost the party several seats in Punjab’s Majha, which it could have gained with Sidhu’s political clout. The AAP essentially gained in Malwa region. The party could not even settle the contention with its two suspended MPs, who stayed away and worked against the
party.

Internal wrangling cost the AAP dear. It unceremoniously axed its state party convener S S Chottepur from the post just ahead of elections. There was widespread dissent in many seats. Corruption in ticket distribution was another taint that hit its prospects.

Punjab gave AAP its lone four MPs. But the AAP had nothing in the name of work to show the people. Its local organisation cadre was missing in many places.

Kejriwal party’s stand on the crucial Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal also remained ambiguous. In this personality driven elections, had it not been for poster boy Kejriwal, the AAP would have missed its mark even further. The party could not effectively project itself with a strong regional orientation in Punjab.

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