Aam Aadmi Party pulls off upset in India’s Punjab


NEW DELHI: With the counting of votes for the current cluster of five state assembly races nearly complete, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stood out as the sole winner among the opposition’s species.

AAP wrested power from the Congress party in Punjab and expanded its reach across the country with demoiselle wins on two seats in Goa. With the wider presence and increased public vote share, Mr Kejriwal blazoned himself in a statesman-suchlike speech, promising a hate-free India.

Meanwhile, the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sounded set to retain its hold on the northern fortresses of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand on Thursday, while keeping power in Goa in the west and Manipur in the northeast.

The BJP’s hard fought crusade in the strategic UP state saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigning in his administrative constituency of Varanasi for three days, where he used Hindu religious symbolism to galvanise support and polarise choosers.

But speaking after his party closed in on the mammoth figure of 92 of the 117 seats in Punjab, Mr Kejriwal said “ Moment, we’ve got to take a pledge. Let us produce an India of our dreams, an India where everyone will love each other, an India, which won’t have a place for an iota of abomination.”

“ Moment I want to address all Indians; all women, all youth, all growers, all workers, all industrialists, all businessmen, everyone who’s harkening to me — all of you must be frustrated with the state of Indian politics, how these politicians have only pillaged and done so little in all these times, you also want to do commodity, to make a difference,” he said.

“ Moment, that day has arrived. First there was a revolution in Delhi, now there’s a revolution in Punjab and next there will be a revolution in all of India!”.

Mr Kejriwal’s palm may have driven the Congress from power in an important state, but the two parties were beginning to look ideologically analogous in pivotal ways. Under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, Congress had come pronouncedly critical of big business, which was before a hallmark of the AAP.

Although the AAP seeker defeated Congress’ star contender — former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu — both campaigned aggressively against the Ambani-Adani business groups, crucial fiscal sympathizers of the BJP. In this sense, the Congress master in the state was kindly gentled.

“ Submissively accept the people’s verdict,” saidMr. Gandhi on Twitter, adding “ Stylish wishes to those who have won themandate.We’ll learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India.”

A worrisome reality for the opposition was Dalit leader Mayawati’s surprisingly low profile in the UP choices, a state where she has been principal minister four times. Her Bahujan Samaj Party got just two seats, short by 17 from her former census, while the Congress won three.

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