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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

First-timer Gul Panag performs creditably

Monica Sharma , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 17, 2014
First Published: 12:54 IST(17/5/2014) | Last Updated: 12:56 IST(17/5/2014)

Model-turned-actor Gulkirat Kaur Panag, 35, who centered her campaign on local issues and raised a voice against corruption, sprung a surprise by getting an astounding number of votes in the Chandigarh parliamentary elections.

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The first-timer, who had contested from the Aam Aadmi Party ticket, got 1,08,679 votes, just 13,000 less than what veteran politician Pawan Kumar Bansal, Congress MP, polled. An active politician, Gul was all set for the D-day, she reached the counting centre at 6.30 am and stayed till the counting ended.

 Gul had campaigned intensively and covered the entire city in the past one month.

A fitness freak, Gul connected with the youth and spoke local issues, including crusade against corruption, during the campaigning.   

Gul secured votes from all parts of the city, including from urban areas and colonies. Though she got the third position, but the share of her votes was commendable for the first-timer.

The party, which had recently gained ground, managed to get a huge number of votes, reflecting that people voted for a change.

Creditable performance

The vote share of the party was quite good in colonies such as Hallomajra, Ram Darbar, Khuda Ali Sher and Sector 25 colonies.

Her own Sector 34 voted graciously for the damsel. AAP ate into the Congress share and dented its vote bank. With the broom as their symbol, AAP clicked with colony dwellers.

The model-turned-actress managed to secure a good hold among urban voters by her eloquent and vociferous speeches.

Dent in AAP’s Delhi image affected local prospects

The recent performance of AAP in Delhi where the party chief minister Arvind Kejriwal stepped down as chief minister harmed its image. A rift within the party also affected the results. The start of AAP in the city was not that impressive when Gul was announced the candidate just a month before the elections.

AAP had risen to fame with Arvind Kejriwal’s surprise debut win in the Delhi assembly elections.

People here started looking forward to know about the party’s candidate from the city. There were speculations of fielding field US-based doctor Munish Raizada.

The name of KC Singh, a diplomat and strategic affairs expert, was also mentioned as one of the main contenders from Chandigarh, after a section of the party workers wrote to the high command in Delhi against Raizada, a doctor from Chicago.

The party gained ground in the city with its members increasing from mere 500 to nothing less than 25,000 in one month.

Five reasons why AAP lost:

*Intensive campaigning helped the party gain ground.
*Gul Panag’s connect with youth got her urban votes.
*The internal rift within the party, however, harmed the candidate’s winning prospects.
*Limited strength of party volunteers did not correspond with the amount of effort Gul had put in her  campaign.
*Image of AAP dented in New Delhi

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