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Thursday, June 30, 2022

How Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP seeks to make inroads into Punjab ahead of Assembly polls

Arvind Kejriwal, along with Manish Sisodia, will carry out a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ in Punjab’s Pathankot today, making this his sixth visit in just the past two months

File photo of AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal. AFP

Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal will hold a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ in Punjab’s Pathankot today to mobilise cadre ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.

He will be accompanied by Delhi deputy chief minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who is currently on a five-day visit to the state.

Kejriwal’s Thursday visit will be his sixth in just the past two months and indicates that the party is doing all it can to swing votes its way while the Congress and BJP continue to struggle in the state.

AAP in Punjab

With Assembly elections in Punjab months away, the Kejriwal-led party is leaving no stone unturned to sway voters his direction.

Thursday’s Tiranga Yatra aims to see the participation of thousands of people, including the party’s workers and supporters from across the state, carrying the country’s flag and raising nationalist slogans such as ‘Vande Mataram’.

It will also serve as a vehicle for the party’s leadership to make his next big announcement for the state.

Previously, Kejriwal has already promised up to 300 units of free electricity for each household in Punjab, 24-hour electricity supply, and free treatment and medicines at government hospitals if voted to power in the assembly elections due early next year.

On 22 November, Kejriwal also announced that if voted to power, AAP would transfer Rs 1,000 per month to the account of every woman in Punjab aged 18 or above. Speaking to women at Moga, he had asked the women to give him and his party a chance.

It is interesting to see how the AAP is galvanising the cardres and swaying voters while the Congress continues to battle in-fighting.

Congress’ Punjab troubles

The Congress in the state, has been facing turmoil, making experts and political pundits question if the ruling party will be able to retain power in the state.

The Punjab Congress leaders appear to be at war amongst themselves. First, it was the exit of Captain Amarinder Singh, owing to tensions with Navjot Singh Sidhu.

If losing the biggest name you had in the state wasn’t bad enough, then the in-fighting between new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Punjab unit’s chief Navjot Singh Sidhu over the appointment of the advocate general only compounded the problems for the party.

While that seems to have been resolved and Sidhu recalled his resignation, it seems that the party is once again facing rumbles, courtesy Sunil Jakhar. The former Punjab Congress chief has launched frequent attacks on the party government on Twitter with his latest one coming on Tuesday in which he wrote, “Your monkey, your circus “I follow this dictum – neither suggest anything nor interfere in other’s ‘show’!”

Jakhar was reacting after Sidhu had trashed the list of district Congress committee (DCC) chiefs he had finalised when he was the PPCC chief.

The fact that former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has announced that he would contest the upcoming Assembly polls under his new party only gives the Congress more reasons to worry.

Captain Amarinder Singh has stated that he had spoken to Home Minister Amit Shah to form an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections and a formal announcement could be expected soon.

BJP in Punjab

While they are politically strong in almost every other northern state, Punjab continues to elude the BJP.

The BJP faced another setback in the state when the Shiromani Akali Dal ended their years-long alliance with the party over the contentious three farm laws.

The party also suffers from the fact that they don’t have any prominent pan-state face and the total absence of a cadre base.

However, the saffron party has received a shot in the arm when Manjinder Sirsa, an Akali Dal leader close to the Badals, joined the ruling party.

According to reported information, the party’s strategy for the approaching Punjab polls is to tap disgruntled leaders from the Congress and Akali Dal. With Sirsa’s entry, BJP has acquired a big Jat Sikh face.

Moreover, the Centre’s decision to rollback the three farm laws may also help its political future in the state where agriculture is the biggest employer and income generator.

As of now, the political landscape of the state is up in the air, making the contest one to watch out for.

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