After making a successful debut in 2014 a Lok Sabha election in Punjab, now, AAP is on the verge of extinction in the state. In Shahkot Punjab by-poll AAP lost its deposits. AAP has got only 1900 votes just 632 votes more than NOTA. In Shahkot constituency, in 2017 AAP had secured 41,000 votes about thousand less than Congress which had secured 42,008.
In 2017, in the Gurdaspur parliament by-election also AAP suffered a similar fate and lost the deposit. It secured only 25,000 votes whereas in 2014 Lok Sabha elections it had received 1.77 Lakh votes.
After its puffery of winning 100 seats in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, AAP continued its horrible performance in Punjab Municipal elections also. Overall, performance in Punjab was all about slandering, allegations and noise rather than about vision, agenda, development and substance. All these fiascos are big blow to a party like AAP which was considered a force to reckon with 1 year ago. In fact, one and half years ago, AAP looked like it would form the next government in Punjab. Apart from how the election was bad for the BJP and even worse for the Congress , AAP’s dismal performace is a big take away from the elections. AAP looks like it has been wiped out of Punjab. And the reason behind its debacle in Punjab is one and only- Arvind Kejriwal.
After the Shahkot defeat one AAP volunteer said, “Rest of the damage was done by party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia, which led to huge disappointment among party volunteers.” His apology to Bikram Singh Majithia caused rebellion in the party ranks. Arvind Kejriwal, during the Punjab Assembly election campaign, had claimed that Bikram Singh Majithia is involved in Drug trafficking, an accusation he later recanted and then apologized to Akali leader for his comments. This angered the AAP unit in Punjab. AAP MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, resigned from the post of AAP state chief. AAP leader called his apology a blunder, surrender and betrayal to the people of Punjab. The party’s state unit is in shambles, with the entire unit almost in rebellion mode. The top leadership of the unit has quit, and in the last meeting, only half the MLAs turned up. They are angered with Kejriwal and his sudden U-Turn. Entire campaign of AAP in Punjab was based on anti-Akali narrative and drug issue. Arvind Kejriwal’s apology to Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia destroyed the very founding stone of AAP Punjab. Arvind Kejriwal made boorish remarks and baseless allegations against many Akali leaders without any proofs. He, in fact, even boasted that all the so-called criminal and culprit Akali leaders would be thrown behind the bars if AAP comes to power. In return Akali leader slapped him with many defamation cases which forced Kejriwal to tender an apology for his bad-mouthing.
Arvind Kejirwal seems to be the biggest enemy of his own party. Animosity between Punjab AAP unit and the Central unit is only rising. Senior leaders of the party are leaving the party and joining the other parties or forming their own party. Hans Raj Rana from Adampur and H S Walia from Jalandhar Cantt left and joined Shrimoni Akali Dal (SAD). Senior leaders leaving AAP is another huge blow for a party which has been in decline ever since its big victory in Delhi.