Chandigarh, December 5: The Aam Aadmi Party that landed with a bang in Punjab on the plank of morality and ethics in politics now faces every conceivable allegation of corruption at every level. The latest to join the ranks of the rebels is Arjuna awardee Rajbir Kaur, the former captain of Indian women hockey. Going by the allegations that have surfaced in the allotment of tickets, preference has also been given to the money bags who are in a position to afford this investment.
Reports of old party workers revolting against the candidates at a number of places are appearing almost every day and these workers who worked at the grassroots are turning to be the bitterest of critics of the party functioning. One of the reason for this sordid state of affairs is the lack of a credible and effective state face to lead it. AAP was the party of hope in this state where the people were fed up with both the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine and the opposition Congress. The situation is changing fast.
AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed several meetings in Punjab over the last few days. He attracted good crowd. However, the pitch of the voices of revolt is getting louder and louder with each passing day.
Once the perception of the people change about AAP of its being different from others that it claimed to be, the people would prefer to revert to the traditional parties that they wanted to dump. Added to every type of allegation is the charge of arrogance and total centralisation leading to dictatorship.
The effectiveness or lack of it of the local leadership can be gauged from the cold response that its state convener Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi Warraich from the candidates in Jalandhar district who did not turn up to meet him at the given time on one pretext or the other.
The two leaders from Delhi who were entrusted with the responsibility of putting place the party structure were Durgesh Pathak and Sanjay Singh, in that order. Both of them have come under the cloud and become increasingly less visible. This is the situation after the party has come out with candidates on majority of seats and release of manifestos for almost every section of society in the state. The manifestos have just been forgotten.
Four of the AAP candidates made it to the Lok Sabha when the party was without any local face or even the basic organisational structure. That was a different situation. Two of these MPs, Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa, remain suspended for more than a year. Prof Sadhu Singh is a non-entity. The only person among them who continues to attract crowds is Bhagwant Mann despite all his flaws. The party was going strong despite such a situation till its convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur was thrown out under flimsy charge of corruption.
However, the real downfall started with the allotment of tickets strengthening the impression that the party had become attraction for those who could not find any space in the traditional parties but got frustrated soon. The so called idealism to create a healthy political space was just rhetoric. The attraction was political power that seemed to be within reach just two months back.
The party would have to take drastic remedial measures to regain the lost ground. The candidates who have come under shadow would have to be changed and there is still time for that. The party did not stick to its own criteria of participatory selection from the grassroots and hence the damage.
The party campaign has been more in negativity rather than come out with some positive agenda touching the real issues. It was for this reason that the party dharna at Kapoori against the construction of the Satluj Yamuna link Canal failed to attract people even for three days. That was a test and AAP failed. This is just one issue. Punjab is in need of a positive agenda rather than the freebies and every party seems to be failing in that. Punjab has little hope in the long run. Waiving of farmers loans, beatification of the road leading to the Golden Temple in Amritsar or 4-laning of highways is different from bringing about qualitative change in the lives of the people. Every political party is silent about the Dalit struggle that has been going in in the Malwa countryside on the land issue.