Why AAP won Punjab and Challenges Ahead

  • Why did AAP win and what are the challenges that lie ahead? AAP has to transition Punjab from a wheat-rice M.S.P economy to a Multi-grain M.S.P/Free market economy and delink religion from politics, so essential for peace in Punjab.

The Punjab Elections Results have taken all by surprise. Why did AAP win and what are the challenges that lie ahead?


1. People of Punjab were fed up with the Akalis and Congress. Both failed to provide good governance, not to forget their penchant for wooing the Sikh clergy. This is evident in the defeat of Badal Senior, Channi, Sukbir Badal, Majithia and Sidhu.


2. So tired were people of Channi/Sidhu antics and so dis-reputed are the Akalis that people decided to give outsider AAP a chance. The failure of the farmer agitation only reinforced this thought. 


3. The farmer agitation was written in Delhi and directed by Captain Amarinder Singh. Eventually, the former Maharaja of Patiala lost the Patiala seat. 


Life evens out is a popular phrase. Jaise karni vaise bharni  is another. The Congress lost so Captain’s ego is satisfied.


4. Strange are the ways of the Congress High Command. Till about a year ago, it seemed like Congress, under Captain’s leadership, would retain Punjab. Then farmer’s agitation, Captain’s leadership was questioned, Sidhu made Congress chief and Channi replaced Captain. 


Why was Sidhu given so much importance, when the Congress had not won an assembly election under his leadership, remains a mystery?


Also read This is about politics, not farmers rights


5. The Congress hoped the farmer agitation would fulfil their dream of pulling down the Modi government. Hatred for Modi has cost the Congress dearly!


So enamoured were the learned that the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Farm Bills, on what basis is unknown, when the key issue was to examine its legality- could the Centre pass such bills. 


6. AAP supported the farmer agitation. This got it support in Punjab, the fulcrum of the agitation, but not in Western Uttar Pradesh.


7. This author said that making Channi (Chamar community of Ramdasia Sikhs) as Chief Minister was a good move since about 30% of Punjab’s population belongs to the Backward Classes. 


The Congress move backfired. After all, since Punjab State was formed in 1966, Channi was probably only the second non-Jat Sikh to become CM, the first being Giani Zail Singh who belonged to the carpenter community (Ramgariya Sikh).


AAP realized the importance of having a Jat Sikh so Bhagwant Mann was declared as CM candidate. Punjab is unwilling to have a non-Sikh-non Jat CM. Also, probably split of backward class votes, between the Akalis-Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and AAP, benefited AAP. 

Now, Jat Sikhs hit back.   With Mann as CM, community’s stranglehold over Punjab politics continues. Hope Supreme Court rules on a old matter, Are Sikhs a majority or minority in Punjab?

Punjab needs to grow Millets. In 1961 area under paddy was 2.27 lakh hectares  vs. 30.46 in 2016-17.

8. CM designate Mann’s speech at Sangrur referred to Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar. Clearly, Jat Sikhs and Backward Classes are AAP’s vote bank. 


As we have seen in Delhi, Kejriwal is very clear about who his vote bank is (Muslims and auto-drivers) and does not care about what the rest think.


Having said that, AAP must know that Bhagat Singh (son of Kishan Singh and Vidyavati) had printed 2,000 copies of the book The Indian War of Independence of 1857 to raise funds for his revolutionary society. As a mark of respect Singh sent the first two copies to its author Veer Savarkar. Source Veer Savarkar by Dhananjay Keer Pg. 216.


AAP must also read Ambedkar’s book Thoughts on Pakistan. Written in 1941 it is an outstanding understanding of the sub-continent Muslim mind, relevant then and today.


9. The Punjab unit of the BJP needs to be united. New comers must not be favoured over loyalists. By publicly refusing to state that Bhindranwale was a terrorist, the BJP alienated Hindu voters and moderate Sikhs.  


10. The BJP must focus on building the party in Punjab. It can make its presence felt by being an effective opposition.


Hope Punjab BJP will not emulate Delhi BJP and give AAP a free pass on its shortcomings. Both need to learn from former chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis.  

Punjab needs more hospitals for cancer treatment.   

11. Since many believe that the source of pollution in Delhi is stubble burning in Punjab these results are good because the same party rules Delhi and Punjab. 


12. Unlike in 2017, where AAP wooed Khalistani sympathisers, this time it has not done so publicly atleast. 


How AAP deals with its erstwhile supporters, resident Indians and NRI’s, remains to be seen. 


13. Sidhu was a votary for better relations with Pakistan. It appears that AAP will take a similar line esp. if it is unable to deliver.  


It is unlikely that the Centre or the people of India shall give AAP a veto on Indo-Pak relations.


14. Media and learned shall now project Kejriwal as the chosen one to take on Modi in 2024.  


BJP shall do well not to underestimate Kejriwal. It is their failure to highlight shortcomings of the AAP government in Delhi that has contributed to its rise.


15. AAP shall now have the budget of two states, Punjab and Delhi, to fund its advertisements. Expect a surge. Good for print and electronic media.

3 Punjab must promote drip-irrigation, requires mind set change.


AAP will face challenges in Punjab

Delhi is a municipality, not a state government in a true sense of the term. Running a state, as big as Punjab where religion and politics are intertwined, will not be easy. It will be more accountable now.   


The centralised way of governance might work in Delhi but Punjab will call for delegation. AAP needs a new organization structure.


Like other states Punjab will petition the Centre to increase its share of central revenues and demand a special package since it is a border state. Importantly, AAP has two votes in the G.S.T Council and more Rajya Sabha seats.  


In Delhi, Kejriwal has an able deputy in Manish Sisodia who takes care of governance. Who will be Mann’s Sisodia? Will it be Raghav Chadha? The very eligible Chadha lacks the experience of the 50 year old Sisodia.


Parts of Punjab (notably Malwa) are badly affected by cancer. Remember the cancer train to Bikaner. Importantly, the cause of cancer (over-use of pesticides etc) must be addressed. Punjab needs more hospitals not only free medical care.


It is fine to say that lack of medical colleges is forcing students to study abroad. The real problem is excessive reservations and over-regulation.  

Also read Why Indian medical students are forced to study abroad  


According to this article in The Hindu, “The party’s key election promises so far include free education for every child born in Punjab in government schools; free medical treatment at government hospitals; free electricity upto 300 units to every household; a monthly stipend of ₹1,000 for women (above the age of 18) and providing ₹1 crore for Army and Police personnel killed in the line of duty.”


According to Census 2011, there were 131 lakh women in Punjab of which about 44 were less than 18. That leaves 87 lakh women entitled to receive Rs 1,000 per month. Annual cost atleast Rs 10,400 crores. Remember existing scheme of free power to farmers costs app Rs 8,000 crores annually.  

There is more to India than the Taj. 

AAP can raise revenues by stopping illegal sand and gravel mining, efficiencies and taking the lead in taxing agricultural income. Only states can tax agricultural income.


Punjab tops in over-exploitation of ground water Free power results in excessive drawing of groundwater. This affects water quality, crops and their yields often.


Due to violence during 2021 farmer’s agitation, India Inc might refrain from making fresh investments in Punjab. AAP can blame the Centre or create a conducive environment for business.


If AAP fails to improve the condition of farmers it might blame the Centre and all might realize that the Centre and States have to work in tandem.


It remains to be seen how AAP deals with the Akali Dal controlled Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). Until religion and politics are delinked, Punjabi society will be unstable.


Unless AAP stops threats to Bihari and U.P. labour, they will prefer to work in their home states where a double engine Sarkar is at work. If that happens, family members of rich Jat Sikh farmers will have to start working on fields in large numbers.


AAP has to transition Punjab from a wheat-rice M.S.P economy to a Multi-grain M.S.P/Free market economy. Best Wishes!


Also read

1. Decoding scrapping of farm laws

2. What is the problem in Punjab

3. What happened during the Khalistani Movement

4. Why Dera Sacha Sauda attracts followers

5. Did Sikhs Save Hinduism

6. Can the Supreme Court tell the people of India

7. Is Punjab Dying because of Cancer, M.S.P.

8. Downside of Punjab style Fertiliser Based Farming 

9. Have Kejriwal/Mann promised more than what they can deliver

10. From empty coffers to zero pending bills

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