It is 7.30 am and AAP’s candidate from Ludhiana West, Ahbab Grewal, is seen in Guru Nanak Dev Nagar of Haibowal Kalan area of Ludhiana. Grewal is the candidate of party from Ludhiana West and he is busy knocking at the doors to meet residents in person. Grewal greets roadside commuters, touches the feet of elderly, goes up to the youngsters, and if anyone offers chai or cold drink, he readily accepts.
“This is my first round of door-to-door campaign in the area and I have visited about 15,000 houses in my constituency so far and met over 45,000 people. I am giving my handouts to them as well as I have made points for different areas. So I am colony specific rather than talking in all about one constituency. Every colony has different needs,” Grewal said.
AAP in Punjab has split, its top leaders in the state appear to be in a disarray, and the party seems to be caught in a new controversy daily, whether in Delhi or here in Punjab.The troubles began almost immediately after it announced two early bird lists of 32 candidates, some of whom were opposed by AAP workers on the ground.
But unfazed by what is happening within AAP, or even by the opposition’s criticism, the candidates have hit the ground already. If they are concerned that the party may unravel, they are not showing it.
When Grewal knocks at the door of Darshana Devi of Guru Nanak Dev Nagar, he gives her a handout with AAP’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal and himself on it. Darshana happily accepts and even blesses him. “We have chosen timings of 7.30 am- 9am for door-to-door campaigning as our volunteers have to go to work as well and in the evening we move around from 5 pm-8 pm. This is the plan as of now. We do organise small mohalla -level meetings on weekends as well. I am following this plan for more than a month now,” he said.
Grewal says he initially faced questions about AAP’s former convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur and the controversies in Delhi. “However, now I hardly come across such questions. Not more than 70 persons at different posts have left our party, while thousands are joining. So we are not bothered, and we are going out to meet the public every single day.”
Separately, his wife Navreet Kaur is also going door to door in other areas. Jassi Sekhon, the candidate from Dhuri, is also not letting the grass grow under his feet. He says he tried to tell people AAP’s side of the story on Chottepur’s sacking.
“Wherever we go, we do explain the reason why Chhotepur was sacked from the party and show that corruption has no place in our party. As Chhotepur is moving in different constituencies, we have to tell our voters our side as well. Believe me, voters are not bothered about controversies of Delhi. They need a change and they see that in us,” said Sekhon Samarbir, AAP candidate from Fazilka, said, “No doubt we are facing a few odd questions, but that does not mean we should sit at home. We are doing our campaign and with this pace, I think, I will be able to visit each and every house of my constituency at least thrice.”
When asked that a few of workers were against him, he said, “They are a few only and they are not walking with me even now. A handful will not make any difference.” AAP’s candidate from Sangrur, Aman Arora, started his village-level meetings from September 20 onwards in which he had invited Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann to be part of it. Arora has switched from Congress to AAP.
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However, Kesar Singh, a local resident of Sunam and also associated with Shaheed Udham Singh Memorial Society, said, “ Sunam is an Akali seat. Though Arora is visible in the area, I think he will have to work hard. Real competition will be visible once candidates of other parties also begin to campaign .”
Dhuri candidate Sekhon said: “Soon, we will be showing our achievements through projectors as well. As of now, we are doing door to door, nukkad meetings and have done one or two road shows and big rallies as well.” “Negative or positive, it is a publicity for us. So voters are more bothered about their day to day problems rather than what rival parties are speaking about us,” said MP Mann who is also campaign committee in-charge of AAP.