Nazar Manshahia joining Congress hastens collapse of AAP in Punjab
Chandigarh, April 25: The timing of Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Mansa Nazar Singh Manshahia is strategic, although the move itself is not unexpected in the context of turbulence within that was triggered some months back leading to informal split. Manshahia was part of the group of rebels led by Sukhpal Singh Khaira whose support is shrinking within his own group.
According to the grapevine, at least three more AAP MLAs can follow suit in the coming days thereby hastening the demise of the party that had emerged as the main opposition replacing the Akali Dal in 2017 Assembly elections.
Manshahia resigned his seat in the Assembly and submitted a one-line resignation letter, unlike Khaira who too today penned down a long resignation, apparently to avoid its acceptance. As per the format, the resignation has to be one liner without specifying any reason. Khaira is contesting the Lok Sabha election from the most crucial Bathinda seat where he is pitted against food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring from the Congress and AAP’s Prof Baljinder Kaur.
Manshahia’s timing is important as Mansa is part of the Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency. Both Bathinda and Ferozrpur have the potential to dictate Punjab’s religio-political discourse. Akali Dal president and Harsimrat’s husband Sukhbir Singh Badal has taken up the challenge in Ferozepur.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has played his card very deftly by engineering this shift. This move has upset all permutations and combinations in Bathinda seat. The move that was initiated a few days back was kept under the wraps. The leader who is learnt to have been instrumental in this strategic move is rural and urban development minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa.
This move is likely to polarise the constituency towards virtually a direct fight between Akali Dal and the Congress with Baljinder and Khaira getting pushed to the margins. Perception is already gaining ground that both these candidates might end up as spoilers. When the contest is sharp, people don’t like to waste their votes going by the earlier trends.
It may be mentioned that it was AAP whose presence had helped Harsimrat in 2014 who scraped through with a little more than 19000 votes trouncing her estranged brother-in-law and now finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal. AAP had managed about 80,000 votes.
What is all the more important that Manshahia joining Congress might reinforce the perception that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not an important factor in this Sikh-dominated border state.
Capt Amarinder Singh had been under attack on non-performance. This aspect might get neutralised in case one or two more AAP MLAs take the risk of facing byelection following Manshahia. He has joined the Congress only after getting assurance of ticket in the byelection to be cause by his resignation from Assembly.
AAP had emerged on the Punjab scene in 2014 Lok Sabha election as a party of hope but its Delhi based leaders who controlled the party were too small and they failed to grasp the political reality in this state. The leadership betrayed the people in Punjab whose another experiment at third experiment was sabotaged in the run up to 2017 Assembly elections.
The path followed by Manshahia is the destiny of what remains of AAP as several of them might seek accommodation in either of the two main parties at appropriate time.
Politics, after all, is a career.