Mo­ment of reck­on­ing for Ke­jri­wal in Pun­jab, Goa

AAP looks to es­tab­lish it­self; do-or-die bat­tle for Cong

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents

NEW DELHI: Satur­day is not just an­other vot­ing day, one that will seal the fate of elec­toral con­tests in 157 leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly seats in Pun­jab and Goa. It will also de­cide on the am­bi­tion of the Aam Aadmi Party and its chief Arvind Ke­jri­wal to be­come a na­tional force.

Pun­jab and Goa go to the polls in the first phase of a five-state elec­tion process that will end with the re­sults on March11. And these two are the only states where AAP is seen as a se­ri­ous con­tender. The party fin­ished with an im­pres­sive tally of four out of 13 seats in Pun­jab in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, even as it drew a naught in the rest of the coun­try.

AAP’s ad­vent on Pun­jab’s po­lit­i­cal scene in 2014 also ended the bipo­lar­ity of the state’s politics which was shuf­fling be­tween the Con­gress and the Shi­ro­mani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party com­bine that has now ruled for 10 years.

Months ago, around Septem­ber 2016, the party’s po­lit­i­cal af­fairs com­mit­tee took the de­ci­sion to fo­cus on Pun­jab and Goa among the five states.

A good show will mean AAP’s ex­pan­sion out of Delhi, where it won 67 out of 70 seats in Fe­bru­ary 2015. A fail­ure could dent the party’s hopes in­clud­ing its chances in the Gu­jarat polls later this year, where it will fight the rul­ing BJP and the chal­lenger Con­gress.

The Pun­jab elec­tion will pro­vide the nec­es­sary im­pe­tus to the win­ner and de­cide who will be the main chal­lenger to the BJP in PM Naren­dra Modi’s home turf.

“Our aim is not to be­come a na­tional party but that elec­tions are fought on the is­sue of anti-cor­rup­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and health,” Delhi deputy chief min­is­ter Man­ish Siso­dia, who cam­paigned in both states to pitch the Delhi model of gov­er­nance, told HT on Fri­day.

“We will take this agenda to other states af­ter Pun­jab and Goa where we are go­ing to form the gov­ern­ment.”

AAP in Pun­jab is up against a resur­gent Con­gress led by for­mer CM Amarinder Singh and the well-oiled elec­tion ma­chin­ery of the SAD-BJP. How­ever, many polls have shown the Con­gress, and not AAP, in the lead.

PTI PHOTO

Delhi CM Arvind Ke­jri­wal’s AAP is be­ing seen as a se­ri­ous con­tender in Pun­jab, where it won four of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, and Goa.

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