K V Prasad
Punjab and Punjabis believe in living it big and the verdict its people handed over to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) reaffirmed this.
Over the years the people of Punjab have spoken loud and clear, through the ballot, entrusting governance to one party. There never was any confusion and this time AAP was the chosen one.
That AAP won 92 seats is a record in itself. The last time the electorate of this border state gave such a thumping majority was in 1997 to Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) with 84 seats. In 2017, the results gave Congress a whopping 77 seats.
Having learnt its lessons from the last Assembly where it got squeezed out and barely managed to get a score of seats.
Of course, it was enough to emerge as the second largest party and principal party in the opposition.
One thing that people of Punjab were on the lookout for, was to break the bipolar politics and domination of the Congress and regional Akalis. AAP fitted the bill and its promise of welfare-centric Delhi Model found resonance.
In addition people were unhappy that the major problem of drugs remained as did the stranglehold of the mafia over illegal sand and transport. AAP promised to clean up Punjab with the Broom, its election symbol.
Now the question is what will AAP’s victory mean in terms of its emergence as a party that never hid its ambition to spread its wings beyond Delhi.
Punjab is a perfect springboard to relaunch the party which first fielded candidates across the length and. breath of the country during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the polls, Punjab elected four AAP MPs, its entire strength in the 16th Lok Sabha. Among them was Bhagwat Mann, its Chief Minister candidate who was the only one to retain his seat from Sangrur.
Mann is a Jat Sikh became a household name as a comedian and one who excelled in satire, much before the advent of social media.
Then as an MP took up issues of the state with passion while turning up with the turban like Bhagat Singh.
He now promises that pictures of B R Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh would adorn walls of every government office. And of course a new culture of a corruption free regime, the raison d’etre of AAP. Punjab has invested big in the decade old party and it is time to hit the road running.