While most exit polls have predicted a clear majority for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the picture is not so rosy for the party in Goa and Uttarakhand.
News18 spoke to Raghav Chadha, AAP’s Punjab co-in-charge, on the future of the party.
Excerpts from an interview:
How do feel about the exit poll prediction for Punjab?
The exit polls show that the people of Punjab have overwhelmingly voted for the jodi of Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann. They have embraced and acknowledged the Kejriwal model of governance. And the state of Punjab, which was yearning for change, has overthrown the traditional political parties – Akali Dal and the Congress and chosen a new political start-up – AAP and its tried-and-tested Delhi model.
This result also shows that the AAP today is a national force to reckon with. Today, we are a national party that will be the principal challenger to the BJP. It was said that the AAP is a Delhi-centric party. Today, we have stepped out of Delhi and Punjab has embraced us. Wherever people are fed up of the BJP and Congress, traditional political parties ruling the state, not administering the state for a very long period, they want to receive a model of free electricity, free water, world-class education, state-of-the-art health infrastructure in terms of mohalla clinics. It is the victory of the jodi of Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal.
Why are the results, as per exit polls, disappointing, especially in Goa and Uttarakhand?
The AAP has made a phenomenal debut in the state of Uttarakhand. Once the official results come out, you will perhaps see the vote share there is significant. Whether that converts into a few seats or not remains to be seen. Similarly, in Goa, our vote share in going to be far more than our vote share in 2017. We are gradually progressing in those states. Please understand that this political toddler, the AAP, that was born only seven-eight years ago. Today, it is a force to reckon with and I think the AAP will be the national and natural replacement for the Congress.
Did you actually anticipate the decimation of the Akalis and the Congress?
People don’t dislike the Akalis. People hate the Akalis. There is hatred in the hearts and minds of the people for the Akali Dal. So they wanted to vote them out, not just out of power or opposition, but out of politics of Punjab.
The Congress was voted to power with a lot of hope in 2017. Captain Saab was given the mandate. Not even a single promise made by the Congress was actually honoured by Captain Saab or Channi ji. People had said that ‘Captain ne sau chuki, ghar ghar nutrition pakki’, he will get a job for every household in Punjab. He had said that in four weeks, he would eradicate the drug problem and went on to promise the moon. People of Punjab believed Captain Saab. They said let us give him another chance. But he betrayed and backstabbed people. These last-minute shenanigans by Charanjeet Singh Channi Saab did not work. People voted against the Congress, the Akali Dal and for change, for a progressive party, a party that is a serious player, a party that can offer serious governance and administration to the state of Punjab.
You did not name a Dalit deputy CM candidate, unlike the last time?
At least in 2022, Punjab does not function on caste or religious lines. Punjab is the most secular state in the country. Anybody who tries to do vote bank politics or tries to divide Punjab on the lines of caste and religion is bound to fail.