Ahead of bypoll, AAP faces litmus test : The Tribune India

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Byelection Bugle

Ahead of bypoll, AAP faces litmus test

Ahead of bypoll, AAP faces litmus test

Photo for representation. File photo



Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, March 29

After the poll debacle in Sangrur elections last year and the mishandled operation for the arrest of Amritpal Singh this year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) faces a dual crisis ahead of Jalandhar bypoll, the schedule for which was announced today.

The bypoll for the Jalandhar reserved seat is set to prove a litmus test for the AAP, which, so far, lacks a face for the seat. With a hunt for the party candidate, the prospect of fielding an “outsider” for the seat seems the highest probability.

Ironically, law and order and Panthic issues gained precedence and led to AAP’s loss in the Sangrur bypoll. A similar set of circumstances haunt the party exactly a year later, ahead of the Jalandhar bypoll. The situation has changed dramatically post-March 18, as a majority of the Amritpal ops were based in Jalandhar.

While the operation for Amritpal’s arrest was initially viewed as a triumph for the police (and thus the government), the “Waris Punjab De” (WPD) chief still escaping and his videos surfacing in myriad disguises have proven bad optics for the AAP right before the bypoll.

To make matter worse, Amritpal’s “chardi kala” video surfaced on the day the Jalandhar bypoll date was announced, raising questions on AAP’s claims that “anti-social elements won’t be spared”.

Suspension of major media accounts has further antagonised public sentiments.

Cong first to announce candidate, AAP lacks face

While the Congress is the first party to announce its candidate - deceased MP Santokh Chaudhary’s wife Karamjit Chaudhary - for the bypoll, other parties are yet to announce their candidates. Though several prominent names are doing the rounds with other parties, AAP lacks a face.

AAP was reportedly pinning hopes on a senior Dalit leader of the Congress and a young SC leader and former MLA of the Akali Dal for joining the party. The BJP is also reportedly keen on roping in the said senior Congress leader. Though it was not possible yet, the party’s Jalandhar bypoll face is likely to be brought in from elsewhere. Ahead of the bypoll, the party has so far roped in former SAD MLA Jagbir Brar a few days ago. In the elections for the Jalandhar Cantt seat last year, Congress candidate Pargat Singh emerged winner, while AAP’s Surinder Singh Sodhi stood second and Brar came third. There was a difference of over 7,000 votes between Sodhi and Brar. At the MC level, former SAD leader and former senior Deputy Mayor Kamaljit Bhatia and former Deputy Mayor Parvesh Tangri also joined the AAP recently.

A senior district leader of the party said: “So far, there is no prominent face. We were hoping to rope in some decent senior leaders. All hopes are on the high command to announce a strong face.”

‘Bad optics’ for aap

While the operation for Amritpal’s arrest was initially viewed as a triumph for the police (and thus the government), the “Waris Punjab De” (WPD) chief still escaping and his videos surfacing in myriad disguises have proven bad optics for AAP right before the bypoll.

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