BUOYED BY the victory of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi Assembly elections, leaders of its Punjab unit on Tuesday said the ruling Congress in the state would suffer a similar defeat in the 2022 Assembly polls.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a cross-section of AAP MLAs said the emphatic win in Delhi has given the party cadre in Punjab a massive boost and will motivate them to ensure that the Congress and SAD-BJP alliance meet a “similar fate”. The local leadership is also looking forward to the presence of the national leadership, including the national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in Punjab in the coming weeks.
“The vindication of the party’s policies in Delhi will go a long way in showing the people of Punjab that AAP stands for developmental politics and it is only AAP that can deliver benefits to the people of the state. The Congress is already thoroughly exposed before the people due to false promises made by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and with the SAD-BJP standing discredited too, it is only AAP which can provide a viable third alternative,” said Sunam MLA Aman Arora.
The MLA said BJP’s resounding defeat in Delhi, despite the top guns of the party standing up against AAP, will send the right message to AAP workers and supporters in Punjab. “There is no doubt that we have to work hard on ground in order to make course corrections. I am sure this would be done as the top leadership of the party is seized of this issue. I have been told by Arvind Kejriwal that after the battle for Delhi, the focus will be in winning in Punjab in 2022,” Arora added.
Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema, who was in Delhi with Kejriwal Tuesday, said that the basic framework of the party was present across Punjab and that it was only in a few areas that some functionaries were yet to be appointed in a revamp. “The win in Delhi is not a small one. It has proven that AAP can deliver on its promises and can take up the challenge of BJP too,” he added.
Asked about factionalism within the party ranks in Punjab, which has seen many desertions, both Arora and Cheema said that leaders who had broken ranks with the party would not come back into the fold. “The victory in Delhi will result in these leaders again joining hands with us. We are very sure of this and it will happen very soon,” said Cheema. Arora said most dissatisfied MLAs were led astray by someone and now the party will be one again.
President of AAP’s Punjab core committee, Budhlada MLA, Budh Ram, said people of Punjab want a credible option to the Congress and SAD-BJP and that the Delhi win has proven this fact. “The people are absolutely fed up with the Congress for its false promises and the Akalis have the taint of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib on them. As far as BJP fighting elections alone is concerned, the people of Punjab will never vote for a ‘Manuvadi’ party. Punjabis are secular and BJP stands no chance in Punjab,” he added.
Agreeing that the Delhi results could provide some relief to AAP in Punjab, president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Commitee, Sunil Jakhar said that he did not foresee the party making any gains out of the win. “All that it might do is provide a second lifeline to AAP which has been marred by infighting and dissent in the state. Beyond that I do not think they are in a position to challenge Congress. And for that matter neither is SAD or BJP,” he said.
Jakhar said that if Sukhbir Badal thinks that BJP’s defeat in Delhi will put him a position to bargain with it or to have an upper hand, he was mistaken. “The Akalis have already been discarded by BJP and they too stand totally exposed,” he added.
The PPCC president said Congress too had to introspect. “There is a silver lining that the people have defeated the communal politics of BJP. But this should not be taken as a consolation by us. We need to find out reasons for our poor performance,” he said.
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