What the LS results 2014 mean for the State of Punjab

10:01:00 PM

Punjab has just a handful seats in the entire Lok Sabha. Yet, this time around it has sprung up an interesting result, worth writing about.

The debutante Aam Aadmi Party scored a wonderful 4 seats out of 14. Its only achievement nationwide. Bhagwant Mann, who had earlier been part of Manpreet Badal's People's Party of Punjab, worked really hard and used his earlier experiences with the PPP to deliver a spectacular verdict. Especially in Sangrur, where he himself won with a margin of over two lakh votes. Also notable was the fact that the Delhi group, the select coitre of people who actually run AAP were not so involved here, which actually helped the party.

This election has also marked the final death nail for Manpreet Badal's PPP. He had started this party with lofty ideals and promise of a revolutionary change. He told his people of new ideas and new brand of politics. But soon he went allying with old ideologies like the CPI, CPM, BSP etc. Even that could not help him, so this time, he went allying with the Indian National Congress, the same party against which he fought almost all his political life. He fought elections against Harsimrat Kaur Badal,in Bhatinda and lost. His political career now, seems to be over. Almost all his supporters have left him. His prodigy and close associate Bhagwant Mann, who helped him form the party has now moved on to AAP and is actually flourishing there.

For the Congress, which was expected to win around half of the seats in Punjab, largely due to anti incumbency against the Akali BJP government but the AAP ate into its seat share. It even lost its strong hold of Patiala and won the seats of Ludhiana and Amritsar largely due to poor selection of candidates by the other parties. Even though his wife lost the election, Amrinder Singh, has once again emerged as the strongest leader of Congress in the state. He might not enjoy support of a large section of the party in the state, but the central leadership has lot of faith in him. By defeating Arun Jaitley in Amritsar, he has once again proved his mettle and showed why the high command trusts him so much.

For the Akalis, this was one tough election. This is their second consecutive term in the state assembly. While they are doing a good job, in comparison with what Punjab has seen all these years, their perception in public is dwindling to negative. Yet they held on a good fight, even though they made yet another bad decision in selecting a better candidate for Ludhiana Parliamentary constituency.

The most disappointing party came out to be the BJP. The national winners in this election. They contested from just three seats and won two. You might think it is good, but how good it is? All three candidates were outsiders. The BJP seems to have not much confidence in its own cadre. And why should it? Its own senior most leader, Arun Jaitley, who happens to be one of my favorite politicians in the current times, went against his own cadre, and fought the elections in the blind faith that the alliance partners, the Akalis will win the elections for him. Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had held on to this seat for three times, always complained against Akalis. So what does the leadership do? Ignore the on the ground leader and send in someone who is more co operative with the alliance partner. The message was clear, the growth of the party does not matter. It is friendships and cooperativeness that will take you places. But the voters refused the idea. I personally having admired Mr. Jaitley for years now, was disappointed with the way he handled his own election. And it is not really not an irony that Vinod Khanna, who was reluctantly declared the candidate from Gurdaspur by the party leadership, won yet again from the area with a handsome lead. Yet, this hard working Parliamentarian and a former minister of state for Finance in the Union Cabinet was delegated to the last benches by his party, whereas Jaitley who lost by more than lakh votes was awarded by twin portfolios of cabinet rank by his party (finance and defense). Is it any wonder why the party growth can never happen in Punjab?

Which is a good news for AAP as no other party seems to be concerned much about its grassroots workers. If the AAP leaders listen less to the Delhi gang or leadership, and work as hard as they have this time around, they really will have a good chance in the coming assembly elections. And that could change the way Punjab politics runs.

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