A day after facing a crushing defeat in the Punjab assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday decided to hold a meeting of its MLAs after Holi to finalise the leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha. The name will be announced before March 16, the day the chief minister will be sworn in.
Party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh said the meeting of the 20 MLAs will be held either on March 14 or 15. “After that, the party will undertake a seat-wise analysis of its defeated candidates,” he added. “The first set of introspection meetings will take place in Punjab. We will try to assess what went wrong. Then the next meeting will be held in Delhi where we and senior leaders will have a similar session with party chief Arvind Kejriwal,” he said.
When asked about what could be possible reasons that the party’s performance was far lower than expected, Sanjay said the party would take feedback from candidates who lost and see what went wrong where.
AAP’s Punjab convener Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi said the party would also get the possibility of EVMs hacking examined. “Look at what happened in Uttar Pradesh. What Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party supremo) is saying about EVM hacking is not wrong,” he said.
Meanwhile, the party did not put up a stage at the Hola Mohalla celebrations in Anandpur Sahib. Though Sanjay had tweeted last evening that the party will go ahead with the political rally at Anandpur Sahib, no prominent leader of the party reached there. “We could not put up a stage but held a meeting at Nikkuwala village. I could not attend that as I reached late due to a long traffic jam. AAP’s Rupnagar MLA Amarjit Singh was there along with our former candidates from Chamkaur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib,” said party leader Harjot Singh Bains.
A day after the poll result shock, the AAP leadership is putting up a brave face on the social media. Sanjay put up a 10-minute video message to the AAP team in Punjab this morning giving hope for the future. “We are not going anywhere. We are here to stay and we are now looking at the 2019 Lok Sabha in Punjab. This is not the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Party’s MLA from Dakha Harinder Singh Phoolka tweeted that the party had won half the battle by relegating the SAD to the second position and winning 20 seats in the assembly.
Earlier in the day, Sanjay met party’s Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, who lost to Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal from Jalalabad in the assembly elections, at his residence in Mohali.
Bhagwant put up a poem on hope and unending struggle by Punjabi poet Surjit Patar on his Facebook page. Known for his video messages, he has, however, not addressed his supporters since his defeat.
Kejriwal too has maintained silence on his twitter account for the past more than 24 hours which too is unusual. Organisation building in-charge Durgesh Pathak too has not tweeted any response to Punjab results.
Meanwhile, internal bickering and blame game among party’s state leadership has also begun. A losing candidate, who did not wish to be named, said the party had lost because of the “Delhi team’s arrogance and wrong choice of candidates”.
Another winning candidate said the party failed to appreciate the cultural ethos of the state and could have done better had Sucha Singh Chhotepur not been removed from the party. But Chhotepur got a few votes himself? “The gross moral message of Chhotepur’s removal damaged the party. It is not about the personal vote bank of a leader. His removal led to a split in the party and dissent which went out of control,” he said.