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  India   All India  11 Jun 2018  Punjab: AAP opinion divided over 2019 Cong pact

Punjab: AAP opinion divided over 2019 Cong pact

THE ASIAN AGE. | TANVEER THAKUR
Published : Jun 11, 2018, 6:02 am IST
Updated : Jun 11, 2018, 6:02 am IST

Leader of Opposition and senior AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira has said he is averse to AAP-Cong alliance for 2019.

A file photo of AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally during the state Assembly elections in 2017.
 A file photo of AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally during the state Assembly elections in 2017.

Chandigarh: The recent political development, which hints at a probable alliance between the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the general elections next year may change political equations in Punjab to quite a great extent.  

The overture has thrown all political calculations and equations in Punjab asunder — not only has the news come as a surprise for SAD-BJP combine in Punjab, but also to the Punjab AAP unit.

While one section of AAP leaders in Punjab are happy about the move — they think it would help the party’s prospects in the state especially after recent drubbing in by-polls — a few others in the party are not in favour of such an alliance.

Leader of the Opposition and senior AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira has said that he is averse to such an alliance to take on the BJP in the next general elections.

Senior advocate and AAP MLA H.S. Phoolka has said that he will quit the party if it enters into an alliance with the Congress. Stating that there can be no compromise on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Mr Phoolka said if the AAP joins a Congress-led coalition against the BJP, he will not hesitate even for a moment to sever all ties with the party.   

“I cannot have any truck with the Congress. For me, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots issue is very important and I cannot make a compromise here. If the party enters the Congress-led alliance, I will resign,” he averred.  

According to an AAP insider, “There might be an understanding where all the Opposition parties (non-NDA) come together to field a common candidate against the BJP. But such an arrangement may be possible.

They point out that with what face will the AAP leaders face their supporters and cadres, who have joined ranks to bring up a party that is a non-Congress non-BJP force, if they go in for a political alliance in the traditional sense.

Political observers also point out that in the context of Punjab, the state leadership will have very little say in what the party's national leadership under Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal decides. It will simply have no choice before it. This has been evident from the fall out of the recent apology submitted by Mr Kejriwal to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikramjit Singh Majithia over the allegations made with regards to the drug menace.

The state leadership made a noise about it, which eventually fizzled out. But political statements apart, the AAP wouldn't be opposed to such an idea given the fact that it has fared badly in every election after its rout in the 2017 Assembly polls and stands in a disarray in Punjab. Its voter base has shifted towards the Congress in these elections and it would be more than happy if it is able to retain the four Lok Sabha seats it had won in the 2014 parliamentary polls.

The Shahkot bye-poll results, a couple of days ago, show that almost the entire AAP voter base made a shift towards the Congress.

Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi won Shahkot Assembly bypoll, defeating his nearest rival, Shiromani Akali Dal nominee Naib Singh Kohar, by a margin of 38,801 votes.  The Congress wrested the seat from the  Akali Dal. The Assembly seat was considered an Akali borough with the late Ajit Singh Kohar, Naib Singh Khar’s father, being elected from there five times.

Tags: arvind kejriwal, 1984 anti-sikh riots
Location: India, Chandigarh