By KJ Singh
AAP’s performance in Punjab as a first timer is creditable. But, when the opportunity, and the public sentiment, was with it to capture a second state, how did it manage to slam the door upon itself?
Its sweep in Delhi polls, apparently, made it complacent. That is the key word. And, it stayed with its leadership even though the party heaved and huffed from one mini-crisis to another. It piled insults on one of its key persons, Sucha Singh Chottepur. Alleged corruption, they said. The matter was quite resolvable. These were only allegations. But AK chose to see Chottepur’s back than, like a true leader, give a thorough hearing to the man and keep the Sikh face of the party with him at a time when AAP had already begun to be described as “outsiders”. Did AK care! He was sure a Delhi was possible in Punjab!.
Be good. Feed others
When the jharu adorned one of its manifestoes, plonk on the picture of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Akali Dal giot its chance to rub in its “outsider ignoramasus” charge further- joined, in their own way, by the Congress- the tide appeared to have turned all the wrong for the favoured party. “So, you wish to see such ‘topiwalas’ rule you tomorrow?” was the new war cry of the rivals. It gained traction. It seemed to appeal to the Sikhs, in particular, defenders of the faith.
The tag begins to stick
But, AAP kept busy itself feeding the “Panthic” agenda of the Akalis who gleefully accepted whatever came their way, pushed to the wall as felt under the weight of double incumbency. (Two terms can be sapping and difficult to negotiate. Even Obama felt it.) “Topiwalas” now appeared somehow more recognizable as intruders than ever before.
Me and me
Post-Chottepur, rebellion picked pace with allegations of partisanship in ticket allocation. And what does AK do? Instead of keeping the herd together by persistent cajoling and mollifying hurt sentiments, and naming a leader the ranks could rally under, he swiftly announces that he would himself lead the pack. More grist for the roaring mill: the maverick is planning to cross the border into Punjab which is why he is not naming any front-line leader for the CM post in case his party wins!
Having misread the mind of the Punjab voter, he helped the badlaav happen in their minds: Ehna ton taan Caangrus changi!”
March 11 is a resounding testimony to that.
KJ Singh is a former senior journalist based at Mohali
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