aap: AAP takes office as heavyweights fall by the wayside in Punjab | India News

CHANDIGARH: “We urged ‘jhadoo chalao’ voters, dishonored vacuum chala diya.” The AAP’s Raghav Chadha pretty much summed up the sentiment not only within the party, but also among pollsters and the opposition parties, who were being tied down. The Aam Aadmi party, which promised Delhi-style quality health and education services, overrode caste, regionalism and Deras politics to win an overwhelming majority of 92 seats in the 117-member House.

The rival Congress was reduced to 18 seats and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won three seats, while the Bahujan Samaj Party and an independent party won one each. Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, the political formation of peasant organizations, failed to make a dent. Even its leader Balbir Singh Rajewal failed to open his account.

The election landslide also crushed several bigwigs including former CMs Charanjit Singh Channi, Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Eleven of the 18 Congress cabinet ministers lost, as did the head of the party’s state unit, Navjot Singh Sidhu. In fact, the 50% margin of defeat for cabinet ministers was significantly higher than their margins of victory in 2017. Those who won are Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak), Rana Gurjeet Singh (Kapurthala), Amrinder Singh Raja Warring (Gidderbaha), Pargat Singh (Jalandhar Cantonment), Aruna Chaudhary (Dinanagar), Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria (Raja Sansi) and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Fatehgarh Churian). Rana Gurjeet’s son, Rana Inder Partap Singh, who competed as an independent from Sultanpur Lodhi, also won.

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Shortly after the victory – in a second state less than a decade after the formation of the AAP – the party’s co-leader of Punjab affairs, Raghav Chadha, said: “In the coming days, the AAP will emerge as the national and natural substitute for Congress”.
The AAP sweep was mostly silent, fueled by a call for change following disillusionment with mainstream parties. The announcement of Bhagwant Mann as his main ministerial face helped consolidate his voice in the crucial Malwa region. Congress’s bet on Channi to woo the large SC population also failed to cut the ice with voters. The call of the AAP also extended far beyond Malwa, as it attacked mainstream parties for ‘looting’ the state and seeking ‘Ik Mauka’ (a chance) to resurrect Punjab, promising suppress the sand and alcohol mafia. The party won 16 of 25 seats in Majha region and 10 of 23 seats in Doaba. In 2017, the AAP failed to win a single seat in Majha and only won two seats in Doaba. Also, the party won the Chandigarh municipal elections in its debut.
The AAP leadership also seemed to have learned the lessons of the 2017 debacle, and it made a conscious attempt not to let its campaign peak too soon, in addition to maintaining a safe distance from Punjabi NRI groups supporting the radicals.
“This time, several AAP winning candidates played the giant killers, but they too realized that people were voting for the party’s election symbol (the broom). Similarly, many did not even consider AAP in calculating hot seats like Amritsar (East), Lehra and Patiala, but the broom magic worked,” an AAP leader said. SAD’s Sidhu and Bikram Singh Majithia contested from Amritsar (East); Bhattal from Lehra and former CM Amarinder from Patiala (Urban).

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