The NRI community’s support to the Aam Adami Party (AAP) in Punjab’s Doaba region failed to get enough votes in the recently concluded state Assembly election. The party has come third on majority seats including eight in Jalandhar district alone. Now, these NRIs have started returning back to their respective countries and have realised that it is difficult to understand the local politics from abroad.
Doaba, with four districts including Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr, has 23 Assembly segments. However, only two AAP candidates, Sukhpal Singh Kaira from Bholath and Jai Kishan Singh from Garhshankar, could win in the recently concluded polls. Under AAP’s Chalo Punjab movement, around 35,000 NRIs had come to work as volunteers ahead of the election.
According to AAP’s overseas unit, hundreds of NRIs had come in special planes just two weeks before the polling day. But all such efforts, including special NRI buses and NRI campaigners, failed to gain votes in the Doaba region. The NRIs were so confident that they had even booked places to celebrate the party’s victory in Canada and America.
“Our party was mostly dependent on the youths and the rural votebank. But we were branded as terrorists after the Maur Mandi blast. That scared the voters, particularly in urban areas,” said an NRI and AAP leader, Amrit Singh from Canada, adding that reports of AAP’s links with hardliners had also surfaced just a few days before the election, hitting the party badly.
Meanwhile, another NRI from Toronto said that AAP’s lack of a CM candidate played a major role in the party’s loss. “People did not like the dictatorial attitude of non-Punjabi leaders on the local leaders in the state. The party even ousted former Punjab convener Succha Singh Chhotepur, causing a huge loss to the party in the Majha region,” said another NRI supporter, Amrik Singh from Italy.