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Posted at: Mar 12, 2017, 3:21 AM; last updated: Mar 12, 2017, 10:33 AM (IST)

High on hype, how AAP got it wrong

Why no to PunjAAP

  • Failure to project a local leader as the CM face
  • Inflexible approach in taking along everyone
  • Sucha Singh Chhotepur’s exit led to Delhi versus Punjab controversy
  • Pro-Panthic stance led to swing of Hindu and urban vote to the Congress

Splinter groups lose deposit

  • AAP’s splinter groups Aapna Punjab Party (APP) and Punjab Front contested 96 seats but none of their candidates could save the security deposit.
  • APP got just 37,452 votes, 0.2 per cent of the total polled votes. None of 77 APP candidates could save their security deposit. Most candidates could not even cross the 500-vote mark.
  • Sucha Singh Chhotepur said, “When we formed a separate party, our aim was to keep AAP away (from power) because they humiliated me. And I didn’t want to be a reason for SAD coming to power again. I was successful in both. Now, we will work to become a proper regional party.”
  • The Punjab Front, another AAP splinter group led by Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, contested 19 seats.
  • But the Punjab Front’s fate was no better as most candidates finished with votes in three digits. Dr Gandhi said that he would continue to work to make the front a genuine political alternative in the state.
High on hype, how AAP got it wrong
AAP candidate from Bholath Sukhpal Khaira along with his supporters in Kapurthala on Saturday. Tribune Photo: Malkiat Singh

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11

Thundering clouds seldom rain. This adage has come true for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which drew maximum response in the run up to the Assembly elections, but the results proved otherwise.

From the hype of a record win, the party could not even able to repeat the performance in the 2014 Parliamentary elections where its candidates got lead from 33 Assembly seats. The party has got 22 seats only, including two of its alliance partner Lok Insaaf Party.

The party leadership literally went incommunicado after the results and efforts to reach them failed. State chief Gurpreet Ghuggi sent a statement that the party respected people’s verdict and an analysis would be done soon.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, party leaders say some factors have emerged immediately as the possible reason.

The failure of the party to project a local leader as the face could have been the major reason for the shift of vote to the Congress. “The Congress offered clear leadership and experience. We failed on both fronts,” said a party strategist. AAP had not named its CM candidate.

The inflexible approach of the party leadership in taking everyone along seemed to have hit its image hard among the voters. The party was the first choice of cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who later joined the Congress and seemed to have had an impact on important Majha seats, where the Congress won 22 of the 25 seats. Also, the AAP leadership kept Jagmeeet Brar guessing till the last fortnight before the elections and eventually, he tread his own path.

Sucha Singh Chhotepur’s exit under controversial circumstances too seemed to have caused a dent as it led to Delhi versus Punjab leaders controversy. Though Chhotepur’s party candidates could not do much on their own, they would have been proved beneficial for AAP.

Also, the party leadership seemed to convey that they would not try to please its own party members and were eager to show the door to anyone who questioned Kejriwal. AAP's suspended MP from Patiala Dr Dharamvira Gandhi said though the party’s defeat in such a manner was a surprise for him, “but the party is itself responsible for it. AAP chose turncoats and throttled democracy in the party”.

Police intelligence officials contend that AAP suffered much because of its pro-Panthic stance. They argue that the swing of the Hindu or urban vote to the Congress at the fag end of the elections proved decisive.

“The Hindu vote has helped the Congress wrest seats. The meeting of Kejriwal with pro-Khalistan elements also irked the votes. Other parties scripted a well-orchestrated campaign on these lines and benefited. The Maur blast reaffirmed the fears on that front,” said a source.

“It seemed we lost at the last leg of the marathon campaign to seasoned parties, who are expert in garnering support in the final hours,” said an AAP leader, wishing not to be quoted.

MP Bhagwant Mann, who was the centre of the whole campaign and projected himself as the CM candidates not only lost the Jalalabad seat to Akali president Sukhbir Singh Badal but also failed to make impact in the Malwa region. Mann’s alcoholism has made him a butt of jokes and campaign on social media.

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