The decision to send the sitting MLA from Rajouri Garden to contest in Punjab assembly polls boomeranged on the party, the Aam Aadmi Party said on Wednesday.
The candid admission is a departure from the AAP’s current stand on its losses in the Punjab and Goa assembly polls for which it had blamed the ‘manipulated’ EVMs.
Reacting to the Rajouri Garden assembly bypoll result on Thursday, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the party will pull up its socks for the MCD polls on April 23 and try to convince the people of the constituency by showcasing the “good work” done by the Delhi government.
“There was anger among people after Jarnail went to Punjab. We tried convince them, but the results show that we failed in our effort,” Sisodia told reporters.
The sentiment was shared by the local voters as well.
Smriti Singh of Vishnu Garden said, “The AAP MLA deserted us. He left midway to fight Punjab polls. So, why should we care for him?”
This is the second time the party is facing this challenge of beating the “bhagoda” (deserter) tag after it faced the similar charge in 2014 general elections after the Arvind Kejriwal government quit within 49 days.
Jarnail, however, said the party needs to introspect honestly. “Win or defeat is part of the electoral politics, but the party needs a deep and honest introspection. Party fights collectively and win or loss is a collective responsibility,” he said.
Harjeet Singh, who was fielded by AAP in place of Jarnail Singh, could get only 10,243 votes in the bypolls. He was way behind Congress candidate Meenakshi Chandela who lost to BJP’ Manjinder Singh Sirsa by more than 14,000 votes.
The AAP’s vote share declined tremendously from 47% in the 2015 assembly polls to a mere 13% in the bypoll. On the other hand, BJP’s vote share in the constituency increased from 38% in 2015 to 52% in the bypolls. Similarly, the Congress increased its vote share in the assembly seat from 12% in 2015 to 33% this time round.
The number of votes that Harjeet Singh got is even fewer than 17,022 votes that AAP’s initial candidate Pritpal Singh received in 2013 assembly election. Despite AAP withdrawing support to him days ahead of the polls, Pritpal continued in the fray with the broom symbol - AAP’s poll symbol - and secured the third place.
The groundswell of support for AAP had continued in this Sikh and Punjabi-dominated west Delhi seat in 2015 assembly elections when its candidate Jarnail Singh won by a margin of more than 10,000 votes, garnering around 55,000 votes.