Punjab elections: In emphatic maiden win, AAP crushes traditional parties

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers celebrating after the party's victory in the Punjab Assembly elections, in Amritsar, on Thursday, March 10, 2022 (Pawan Sharma/IANS)

Punjab elections: In emphatic maiden win, AAP crushes traditional parties

Chandigarh, March 10, 2022

Rising from the ashes like the phoenix, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday, in an emphatic maiden win, crushed the traditional players who ruled the border state of Punjab for over seven decades with a stunning victory largely by its greenhorns on 92 of the 117 seats of the legislative assembly.

Bhagwant Mann, the party's pick for the top post, is all set to become the next Chief Minister.

The ruling Congress, which won 77 seats in 2017, managed to win only 18 seats with most of its stalwarts like Chief Minister Charanjit Channi and state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu facing humiliating defeats in their respective strongholds.

Interestingly, the BJP, which largely banked on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma, and its previous alliance partner the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) failed in securing even a double-digit tally.

The BJP, which had won three seats in the 2017 when it had contested in alliance with the SAD, secured only two seats, while SAD won four seats.

Congress rebel and two-time chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, whose newly floated Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) fought the elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lost his Patiala Urban stronghold to AAP's Ajit Pal Singh Kohli.

He said that people of Punjab had also rejected communal and divisive politics of the Congress by first rejecting one leader as the chief minister for being a Hindu and then trying to play the caste factor.

Capt Amarinder Singh was purportedly referring to the appointment of Charanjit Channi, state's first Dalit Chief Minister, overlooking former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, after his own unceremonious exit from the party.

The halfway mark in the assembly is 59 and AAP firmly achieved this target after dealing a big blow to all the political parties.

All the Badals, led by five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the eldest candidate at 94 in the fray, as well as their kin lost to AAP's greenhorns.

The eldest Badal, who won the seat five times in a row since 1997, lost to Gurmeet Khuddian from Lambi by 11,357 votes, while his son and SAD chief and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Badal faced humiliating defeat from Jalalabad, and his son-in-law Adesh Partap Singh Kairon faced defeat from Patti in Tarn Taran district from AAP's Laljit Singh Bhullar.

Sukhbir Badal's brother-in-law Bikram Majithia and his estranged cousin Manpreet Badal, who was in the fray on a Congress ticket, also lost the poll from their respective seats.

As per the Election Commission, AAP's Khuddian, a Congress rebel, was polled 65,717 votes and the elderly Badal got 54,360.

The junior Badal has lost the elections by a margin of 23,310 votes from Jalalabad to AAP's Jagdeep Kamboj.

Majithia, who was in the fray from Amritsar (East) seat, took the third spot, with 25,112 votes. His arch-rival and state Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu also suffered a loss in his seat, garnering only 32,807 votes.

Both senior leaders were defeated by AAP's novice Jeevan Jyot Kaur, who received 39,520 votes.

A five-time MLA and two-time Finance Minister, Manpreet Badal, who is the son of Gurdas Badal, the younger brother of Parkash Singh Badal, lost the elections from Bathinda Urban.

"We whole-heartedly and with total humility accept the mandate given by Punjabis. I am grateful to lakhs of Punjabis who placed their trust in us and to SAD-BSP workers for their selfless toil. We will continue to serve them with humility in the role they have assigned to us," Sukhbir Badal tweeted.

AAP's chief ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann in his first public address after his victory said: "Bade (elderly) Badal Sahib has lost, Sukhbir (Badal) has lost from Jalalabad, Capt (Amarinder Singh) has lost from Patiala, Sidhu and Majithia are also losing, Channi has lost on both the seats."

Responding to party's humiliating defeat, outgoing Chief Minister Channi, who faced defeat from two seats, his bastion Chamkaur Sahib that he won three times and his new battlefield Bhadaur, tweeted by saying he humbly accepted the verdict.

AAP's Charanjit Singh won Chamkaur Sahib by a margin of 7,942 votes, while Labh Singh Ugoke, who joined AAP as a volunteer in 2013 and whose father is a driver and mother a sweeper in a government school, defeated Channi with a margin of 37,558 votes in Bhadaur.

AAP chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann won from Dhuri. His vote margin from his closest competition, Congress's Dalvir Singh Goldy, was 58,206.

In his first public address in his home town Sangrur after winning the seat and seeing the meteoric rise of the party, Mann promised to fix unemployment as his first task in office.

"No government office in the state will have the photo of the Punjab CM, but will carry a portrait of B. R. Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh."

Mann said he will take oath as the Chief Minister in Bhagat Singh's ancestral village Khatkar Kalan and not in Raj Bhawan.

"We will ensure that the youth do not have to go abroad... Within a month, you will observe changes," he added.

Taking a dig at the opposition leaders, he said, "The elder Badal has lost...Captain (Amarinder Singh) sahab has also lost. Majithia is also losing. Channi has also lost from both seats."

Buoyed by a massive victory, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal, who aggressively campaigned in the state, promised to make India a developed and progressive country.

He said that he will ensure that Indian students do not have to go to countries like Ukraine to study medicine.

Snapping over two-decade long ties, the Akali Dal pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in September 2020 after sharp differences emerged over the three controversial farm laws.

The Congress, which was out of power in Punjab for a decade (2007-17), got 77 seats in the 2017 Assembly elections after drubbing the Akali Dal-BJP combine.

At that time, the elder Badal had won the Assembly elections from Lambi by defeating Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh by 22,770 votes.

IANS

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