Punjab: Setback for AAP’s ‘mission 13’, but solace on vote share front - Hindustan Times
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Punjab: Setback for AAP’s ‘mission 13’, but solace on vote share front

Jun 05, 2024 06:56 AM IST

The ruling party’s vote share has also gone down in Punjab from 42% in the 2022 state polls to 26% this time, a dive of about 16%.

Chandigarh: The election results from the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies are a blow for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab.

A consolation for the AAP is that its Punjab vote share in Tuesday’s results is almost equal to that of the Congress (around 26%), which won seven seats in the state.
A consolation for the AAP is that its Punjab vote share in Tuesday’s results is almost equal to that of the Congress (around 26%), which won seven seats in the state.

These parliamentary polls were a critical mid-term test of the popularity of the AAP, which had secured a historic mandate of 92 seats in the 117-strong state assembly just two years ago. However, in this election, the AAP won just three – Sangrur, Hoshiarpur and Anandpur Sahib – and finished second in another five in the state. Though this is an improvement from the single seat it won in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it falls significantly short of the ambitious goal of winning all 13 seats set by chief minister Bhagwant Mann who had anticipated an AAP sweep.

The extent of the party’s defeat in Punjab is evident from the fate of nine sitting MLAs, including five cabinet ministers, fielded by the party. All of them, except cabinet minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer and Chabbewal MLA Raj Kumar, lost.

These three seats are the only ones that the AAP has to show nationally, just like the four it bagged in 2014 here. The ruling party’s vote share also went down in Punjab from 42% in the 2022 state polls to 26% this time, a dive of about 16%.

Matches Cong’s vote share, but gets fewer seats

However, one major consolation for the AAP is that its vote share in Tuesday’s results is almost equal to that of the Congress (around 26%), which won seven seats in the state. Additionally, the party successfully managed to wrest the Sangrur seat, previously represented by the chief minister Bhagwant Mann in 2014 and 2019, with a handsome margin from Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, who won the seat in the June 2022 bypoll.

From the outset, the stakes were high for the AAP in Punjab, as 13 of the 22 seats they contested, were in this state. Both Mann and Kejriwal campaigned extensively in the state, with the latter joining after being released on bail in a Delhi excise case. The party relied on Mann’s connection with the people and his government’s achievements, particularly the implementation of free power, job creation and other election guarantees, for a strong finish.

Professor Jagrup Singh Sekhon, former head of the political science department at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, attributed AAP’s poor showing to a lack of grassroots organisational structure and the disconnect of its MLAs from the people. “No doubt the AAP govt has given freebies, particularly free power, but they needed their workers on the ground to translate this into seats. It also failed to tackle drugs, corruption and law and order – the issues over which the people had rejected traditional parties and voted for them in 2022,” he said.

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