Mann of the Match: It's a Kejripoll in Punjab as Congress and Akalis wiped out in AAP wave that uproots giants

The party has won 90 of the 117 seats and emerged as the giant-slayer by defeating three former chief ministers including Charanjit Singh Channi, Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh

FP Staff March 10, 2022 21:00:59 IST

The Aam Aadmi Party stormed to power in Punjab in a landslide as the Congress crumbled and the Akali Dal stared at a rout.

As per the Election Commission of India website at 6.30 pm, AAP, with a 42 per cent vote share, won 90 seats.

The Congress was a distant second with 17 seats, Shiromani Akali Dal a mere three, Bharatiya Janata Party two and Bahujan Samaj Party and an Independent candidate won one each. In the 117-member Assembly, a party needs 59 seats to form the government.

Mann of the Match Its a Kejripoll in Punjab as Congress and Akalis wiped out in AAP wave that uproots giants

Image showing the partywise vote share in the state. Image Courtesy: Election Commission of India

AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal hailed the party's performance in Punjab as a ‘revolution' and vowed not to break people's faith.

The party emerged as the giant-slayer with three former chief ministers biting the dust. Apart from Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who lost from his Chamkaur Sahib as well as Bhadaur, former chief ministers Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were also among the heavyweights who were defeated.

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Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia and several Punjab ministers also went down.

The Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, a political outfit floated by various farmer bodies, failed to make any mark.

Prominent winners included AAP's chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann from Dhuri, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema from Dirba, Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Kumar Sharma from Pathankot, Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa from Qadian and minister Rana Gurjeet Singh from Kapurthala.

What worked for AAP

The party made hay with people's disillusionment with traditional outfits, sought a chance to bring about a change as AAP accused its rivals of looting the state. The party's slogan "ik mauka Bhagwant Mann te Kejriwal nu" (one chance to Bhagwant Mann and Kejriwal) seems to have clicked among voters.

The party sought to replicate the Delhi model of governance in Punjab by improving the condition of schools and health facilities. It also promised freebies like Rs 1,000 per month for women, free power up to 300 units and round the clock electricity to woo voters.

The announcement of Bhagwant Mann as the chief ministerial face before the polls also worked to its advantage.

The AAP's landslide victory showed that it performed well in all three regions — Malwa, Majha and Doaba.

AAP made its presence felt in electoral space in 2014 when it won four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. The victory came at a time when the BJP performed well throughout the country.

Although it could not perform as per its expectations in the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, yet it turned out to be the principal Opposition party by winning 20 seats.

It performed well in the Malwa region by winning 18 seats. But it could not perform in Doaba, where it just won two seats, and in Majha, it failed to win even a single seat. The Malwa region accounts for 69 of the 117 Assembly seats.



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However, the party faced internal bickering when several party MLAs rebelled against the Delhi leadership in 2019 while seeking autonomy for the state unit.

The party ended up runner up in 2017 polls and later its functioning was marred by factionalism and internal bickering. Kejriwal came under attack from political opponents over allegations of supporting separatists on the basis of accusations of former AAP leader Kumar Vishwas.

The political rivals also described Kejriwal an "outsider" and called Bhagwant Mann as "dummy face" while the Delhi CM as the "real face" of AAP in Punjab.

Bhagwant Mann

Mann won with a margin of 58,206 votes from Dhuri, defeating Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy.

"Many congratulations to the people of Punjab for this revolution," Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi. He also posted a picture of himself standing with AAP's chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann.

The oath-taking ceremony of the new Punjab cabinet will be held at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in Nawanshahr district. Mann said no government office will display photograph of the chief minister. Instead, photos of Bhagat Singh and B R Ambedkar will be put on walls in government offices.

"The oath-taking ceremony will not be held at the Raj Bhawan, but at Khatkar Kalan. The date will be announced later," Mann said addressing party workers and supporters at Dhuri.

Appealing to people to work unitedly, Mann said those who did not vote for APP need not worry as the government will work for all sections of society.

Opposition reaction

On the other hand, the rival parties accepted the people's verdict and congratulated AAP.

Congress's Channi tweeted saying he humbly accepted the results.

Tweeting on similar lines, state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said, "The voice of the people is the voice of God.

Former chief minister and Punjab Lok Congress president Amarinder Singh said he accepted the verdict with all humility as democracy triumphed. Singh had floated his own party after quitting the Congress last year, owing to his unceremonious exit as the CM. He lost from his home turf Patiala Urban by a margin of 19,873 votes to AAP candidate Ajit Pal Singh Kohli.

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said that his party whole-heartedly and with total humility accepts the mandate given by the people of the state.

AAP camp ecstatic

AAP senior leader Raghav Chadha said the party will emerge as the national and natural replacement of the Congress in the coming days. He said people of Punjab have chosen Bhagwant Mann and the Kejriwal model of governance.

Lakhwinder, an AAP supporter in Kharar, told PTI "Those parties which until yesterday were questioning the exit poll surveys, which showed clear majority to AAP, will have no face to show now."

With inputs from PTI

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