There was a palpable sense of hope and confidence in the air. Even before the first round of counting was concluded, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers had begun thronging the party office in state capital Chandigarh. Men wearing the trademark yellow turbans, and women in yellow dupattas, the workers exuded confidence as AAP marched ahead to record a memorable chapter in the history of elections in Punjab.
“Iss vaar jhaadu fer denge (We will sweep the state this time),” said Manjinder Singh, 52, as he hugged fellow workers with early trends indicating a victorious start. “We have worked very hard, and the efforts will pay off. We couldn’t achieve it in 2017, but a lot has changed since then.”
Led by Delhi chief minister and party convener Arvind Kejriwal, AAP made an impressive debut in Punjab politics in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when four of its candidates won the people’s mandate. It made further inroads into the state in the coming years and won as many as 20 out of the total 117 seats in the assembly polls of 2017.
“Bahot pareshan seege. Iss vaar badlaav laana assi (We were very troubled. We had to bring a change this time),” smiled Kulwinder Kaur, 58, holding the AAP flag carrying its CM candidate Bhagwant Mann’s image. Mann has vowed to bring Punjab’s youth back to the state by opening up job opportunities and put an end to the corruption that marred the development of the state.
Calls to implement the “Delhi model of governance" also found resonance among the people.
Unlike in 2017, the confidence was evident among the workers this time. At the party office in Chandigarh, the stage was set, the music on, as the results set off jubilant celebrations. Within hours, large-sized banners thanking the people of Punjab for giving AAP an opportunity were seen all across the party office, as workers broke into cheers hailing their new CM Bhagwant Mann.
Donning the trademark yellow turban, Tarlochan Singh, 62, from Mohali, danced joyously as Mann secured an early lead in the polls. “Mann had asked for one chance, and we gave him that. Now we will not let any other party come to power for at least the next 20 years,” said Singh, who had supported the Akali Dal led by the Badal family for years before he moved to AAP.
Apart from issues of unemployment, drug menace, and the promise of a corruption-free government, AAP in its election manifesto has vowed to improve the conditions of government hospitals and schools. The party also promised strict punishment in sacrilege cases and to resolve farmers’ issues.
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