AAP to contest all 13 seats Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, fields Dhawan from Chandigarh
Chandigarh, January 20: The Aam Aadmi Party has set the ball rolling in the region for the Lok Sabha elections with the announcement to contest all the 13 seats in Punjab and field former minister Harmohan Dhawan from Chandigarh.
The announcement for Punjab was made by party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at an impressive rally at Barnala that is part of Sangrur Lok Sabha seat represented by Bhagwant Mann. The Chandigarh candidate was announced by Mann. Dhawan was present.
It may be mentioned that the party had won four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in 2014 elections, the only state from where AAP managed to open its account. However, two of these MPs later rebelled against the style of functioning of Kejriwal.
Yet another important announcement was made at the rally was by Bhagwant Mann. He declared that he has stopped drinking from January 1.
The announcement to contest all the 13 seats in Punjab is the assertion to convey to the people in the state that the party has not been affected much by exit of its MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and his associates. Both Khaira and Master Baldev Singh have resigned from AAP and both of them intend to try their luck in the Lok Sabha elections from Bathinda and Faridkot respectively. Both of them can face action under the law for resigning from the party on whose symbol they had contested.
AAP has added third dimension to the Lok Sabha contest at the time when the Akali Dal continues to be haunted by incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the related issues. The narrative of how the Akali Dal government under Parkash Singh Badal did not file challan in the blasphemy case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim leading to his acquittal has also been brought back.
With Ram Rahim in jail in rape and murder cases, the Dera vote bank has lost its relevance. The sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib is rooted in the strategy of Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal to woo the Dera vote bank. The failure to file challan and summoning of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and his associates to the official residence of the chief minister in 2015 to engineer pardon for Dera chief are two important manifestations of this strategy.
Khaira at one stage tried to make inroads into Panthic section by espousing the cause of Bargari Insaaf Morcha vociferously. The impression was gaining ground that Khaira would rope in the organisations that were part of the Bargari agitation for the Lok Sabha election. However, the situation has changed.
The non-Congress votes would get divided among different political formations and it is in this context that the decision of AAP to field candidates from all 13 seats matters, though only in some of the seats.
Kajriwal made it clear that the party would contest the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab under the command of Bhagwant Mann. It is pertinent to mention that he had resigned as party president when Kejriwal tendered an unqualified apology to former minister and Akali Dal general secretary Bikram Singh Majithia in the drug case in the court.
One aspect of today’s rally was important as majority of the audience comprised the youth. The audience was also responsive.