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THE WEEK|January 23, 2022
The Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign is based on the firm belief that Punjabi voters want change this time
SONI MISHRA

IT WAS JUST the kind of morale booster that the Aam Aadmi Party needed ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab. The party emerged with the largest number of seats in the recent Chandigarh municipal elections, shocking the incumbent BJP and giving the Congress a reality check ahead of the assembly polls.

It was described by the AAP leaders as the “trailer” before the assembly elections, and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal—the face of the party’s campaign—led a victory procession in Chandigarh. It may be argued that the civic poll results in the Union territory, a largely urban terrain, cannot be extrapolated to a state-wide election. But the results did give a fillip to the AAP’s campaign, despite the setback the party later received as it lost to the BJP in the fight for the mayor’s post.

The AAP, which is believed to have missed the bus in the assembly elections in 2017 because of certain missteps, is once again viewed as a party that can emerge as the dark horse. Experts believe the party is primarily gaining from a deep discontentment among the people towards the traditional powers, the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The party’s electoral journey in the state so far has been quite uneven. It began with a surprise haul of four seats in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The party was seen as a frontrunner in the state polls in 2017, before it ended up with just 20 seats and got the consolation prize of becoming the main opposition party. However, the AAP went through a rather bad patch after that, the period marked by poll debacles and the defection of state leaders.

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