Chandigarh: If the trends are to be believed, then the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is going to do a clean sweep in Punjab. But what were the factors that led the 7-year-old party to the seat of power in Punjab. According to the website of the Election Commission at 11.10 am, the Aam Aadmi Party is leading in 89 out of 117 seats in the Punjab Assembly. Congress is leading in 15 seats so far. What are the reasons for the horrific defeat of two traditional parties – Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) – in Punjab? Both these parties have ruled the state for the last seven decades.
1. Bhagwant Mann Factor
In the 2017 assembly elections, when the AAP won 20 of the 112 seats in Punjab (with a vote share of 23.7%), the party faced criticism for not announcing the chief ministerial face. It was said that the reason behind this move was Arvind Kejriwal’s own ambitions to become the Chief Minister of Punjab. Channi made a similar allegation. However, in 2022, AAP was better prepared as Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann was declared the chief ministerial candidate. Mann, a popular Sikh face of the party, is very popular in the Malwa region.
2. Congress’s self-created crisis
The Congress’s troubles in the state increased with the removal of Captain Amarinder Singh from the top post in September 2021. From a leadership crisis to a tussle for the top post between Navjot Singh Sidhu, Charanjit Singh Channi and Sunil Jakhar, the high command seemed to be unaware of it. Infighting in the Congress has confused voters on the ground. If trends are to be believed, even Channi’s arrival did not help the Congress consolidate the Dalit vote.
3. Effect of Peasants’ Protest
The year-long farmers’ protest was cited as one of the most decisive factors for the Punjab elections. In such a situation, where the sentiment of protest was against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress has been unable to capitalize on the sentiment at the grassroots level.
The Aam Aadmi Party, on the other hand, became familiar with the farmers in the form of senior party leaders such as Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Raghav Chadha, who regularly visited the protesters on the ground.
4. Punjab desperate for change
In Punjab, power has traditionally been between the SAD and the Congress. Both the parties have ruled the power of Punjab for decades. But this time the Congress took a softer stand against the politically arch rival Akali.
Prior to Channi, the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in the state was accused of colluding with the Akalis due to the softness of the charges against Badal, leading to the impression that the Congress and the Akalis were two sides of the same coin.
This time the people of entire Punjab, especially Malwa voted in favor of change. The message was echoing across the state that voters had seen two big parties ruling for 70 years, but they did not produce results. So the time has come to give a chance to some other party.
AAP’s slogan “Is Bar Na Khawange Dhoka, Bhagwant Maan Te Kejriwal Nu Devange Mauka” reverberated across the state as people were fed up with the status quo and falling income levels.
5. Delhi Model
AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal placed his Delhi model in front of the people of his Punjab. He made promises to the people on the four pillars of the Delhi Governance model – quality government education at affordable rates, health, electricity and water. Punjab is a state that has been battling high electricity tariffs, and where health and education were mostly privatized. That’s why people took Kejriwal’s Delhi model in their hands.
6. Advantage of anti-incumbency wave
The AAP seems to have benefited heavily from the anti-incumbency wave against the Congress. The party successfully raised the electoral agenda by raising unemployment, dilapidated healthcare infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, education and other civic issues. Kejriwal’s famous ‘Delhi Model of Governance’ gave a tough competition to the current Congress party. AAP got the support of young and women voters who wanted to give a chance to a new party and the ‘aam aadmi’. Similarly, AAP’s promise to deposit an amount of Rs 1,000 per month into the accounts of women in the state made them a favorite for this class.