The first regional party that has won outside its state of origin, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to foray into national politics.
The landslide win in Punjab has positioned AAP in direct competition to the nation’s grand old party, the Congress.
In the five-state Assembly polls, which were regarded as a kind of semi-final, the Congress has been decimated. After the loss in Punjab, Congress is left with only two states — Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Arvind Kejriwal, while addressing the party workers at the party office in Delhi on Thursday after the results, said that this was a stamp on honest politics and “Bhagat Singh said that the system has to be changed and the people of Punjab have changed the system.”
The party has often made a mention of its national ambition, and has fielded candidates in several states. With the Punjab win, the ambition finally seems to be taking shape.
The elated party workers say that Kejriwal will be the Prime Ministerial candidate in future as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kejriwal shares a good rapport with non-BJP leaders, including Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Akhilesh Yadav. He may become a joint opposition candidate at the cost of Congress in view of the latter’s continued downslide since 2014.
AAP’s Punjab in-charge Raghav Chaddha said that the BJP took 10 years to form its government in a state, but AAP has expanded its base to second state in Punjab and in both the states the AAP has got landslide victory.
Apart from Punjab, AAP has performed well in Goa where it secured around 4 per cent votes. In Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the party has contested and though it has not won, but they have tried to make their organisation alive in each district of the state.
AAP’s Bhagwant Mann, who is the Chief Ministerial candidate, won Dhuri seat with a margin of 58,206 votes. The party is heading for a landslide win in the 117-member legislative Assembly.
In his first public address in his home town Sangrur after winning the seat and seeing the meteoric rise of the party, Mann promised to fix unemployment as his first task in office.
“No government office in the state will have the photo of the Punjab CM, but will carry a portrait of B.R. Ambedkar….We will ensure that the youth do not have to go abroad… Within a month, you will observe changes,” he added
Mann said he will take oath as the Chief Minister in Bhagat Singh’s ancestral village Khatkar Kalan and not in Raj Bhawan. Taking a dig at the opposition leaders, he said, “The elder Badal has lost…Captain (Amarinder Singh) Sahab has also lost. Majithia is also losing. Channi has also lost from both seats.”