AAP and the possible self goal in Punjab - September 8, 2016

After its success in Punjab during the 2014 Lok Sabha followed by the huge mandate it received in Delhi, news in power corridors was that Aam Aadmi Party will comfortably win the upcoming 2017 Legislative Assembly Elections scheduled in Punjab. A double anti incumbency for the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP combine coupled with lack of local leadership in INC made it appear like a perfect scenario for AAP to make its maiden entry into the state. Most pre poll surveys had predicted a clean sweep with some projecting as much as a 4/5th majority for the party.

The party was also apparently making all the right noises until recently. The 2 suspended Party MP’s were systematically sidelined and any possible damage was averted. But all hell broke loose when reports suggesting sting operation conducted on one of its senior most leaders and State Convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur surfaced. What’s more striking is the fact that the sting operation is believed to be orchestrated by an insider. While many party leaders in Delhi have flown overseas on party funds; Chhotepur, according to his own claims, wasn’t given even a single penny. 

Sucha Singh has alleged the Party’s Founder National Convenor Kejriwal to be Anti Sikh. Arvind Kejriwal is believed to have ignored Chhotepur and distributed tickets without keeping him in the loop. Kejriwal also wanted Chhotepur to shoulder the blame for goofing up the cover magazine of the youth wing having picture of the broom with the golden Temple which Chhotepur denied sighting possible excommunication from the ‘Akal Takht’ 

Sucha Singh has also accused some party men of selling tickets for the forthcoming elections. Kejriwal is also believed to have antagonized many party loyalists by unilaterally deciding to rope in Navjyot Singh Siddhu and sidelining the veterans. 7 out of its 14 district office heads have already resigned as a fallout in favour of Sucha Singh

Some have threatened the formation of AAP Punjab a separate entity with Sucha Singh as its head. All these developments might spell doom for Kejriwal’s national aspirations. While retaining his grip over the party he has to balance the act of not letting any of his commandants becoming bigger than him and growing his party at the same time. If the events continue the way they are the party might as well score a self goal in Punjab!

- Prof. Manish Kelkar