The Delhi verdict drives AAP in Punjab, but can it recover? Opinion – opinion
A resounding electoral victory inevitably triggers a domino effect beyond the Ground Zero.
Therein lies the true importance of the spectacular second sweep of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi for its policy elsewhere. Will it revive the ambitions of power of the party beyond the national capital? Nowhere will that momentum be more intense than in Punjab, the only other state where the party has a political base.
That is, after all, where the incipient part had approached in a tempting way to a takeover in public perception. He won 20 of 117 seats, an unprecedented feat for any third party in the long history of the border state of a bipartisan system in which the Akalis and Congress ruled by rotation. He stumbled and lost to Congress, but not before breaking the bipolar mold and catapulting himself on the podium as the official opposition ahead of the Akalis.
There are still two years left for the elections to the Punjab assembly, but the Delhi verdict has the potential to alter the political landscape of the state. It will surely save the AAP, which has been plagued by a series of debilitating challenges: internal disputes, defections, dejected and exhausted cadres, and discouraged leadership.
The party proved to be their worst enemy. It has collapsed so much in the last two years that even its national convener and the Prime Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, seem to have taken a distant attitude regarding the affairs of the party in Punjab. A sad demonstration in the summer elections of Lok Sabha last year in which the party could only retain one of the 13 contests and the loss of deposits in all the others was the last test, if necessary, of the erosion of the AAP base, which, in any case, was limited to the Malwa region.
Today’s party is a pale shadow of his self before 2017.
In that context, the Delhi dividend could not have come at a more opportune time for the Punjab AAP. The head of the State Congress, Sunil Jakhar, was the first to read the political tea leaves when he said the AAP will have a second chance at Punjab if he wins in Delhi. The crucial question is: can the AAP recover and re-mark itself, once again, as a powerful third alternative?
The road to follow is arduous, more than it was in Punjab after 2014 when the AAP, after having caught the popular imagination, was on the rise. Clearly, the party will need to solve the leadership disorder, revitalize its cadres and amplify public problems through the mobilization of the street to be aware.
Alarm bells for Congress, Akalis
The victory of Delhi, by no means, guarantees the resurgence of the AAP in Punjab. However, it pauses to think both for the Prime Minister of Congress, Captain Amarinder Singh, and for the head of Shiromani Akali Dal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who have dismissed the AAP as “a bubble that had burst.”
Now, the congressional government will face a vigorous and struggling AAP that will aim to increase the anti-incrimination sentiment and overcome the Akalis in the opposition space.
A sharp increase in energy rates in Punjab in three years by almost 20 percent (the recent rise was 30 countries per unit last December) is an issue that the AAP will address aggressively, juxtaposing it with the Delhi populist model of Kejriwal who reduced the power bills and distributed a series of gifts.
More importantly, the increase in AAP in the national capital could well make it a potential suitor in Punjab for Akali separatist factions to form a third front for the 2022 Assembly elections. It will trigger new political alignments. But the man to consider is Navjot Singh Sidhu, the face separated from Congress, which has been enigmatically silent since he fought with Amarinder. In the midst of all this turmoil, here is a delicious irony: what can help the AAP to renew the focus on its Punjab project is the survey strategist, Prashant Kishor, who is now in Kejriwal’s team, and there was Created the winning Amarinder campaign in 2017.