Gurdaspur LS bypoll: AAP concedes defeat day before verdict, knives out
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Gurdaspur LS bypoll: AAP concedes defeat day before verdict, knives out

AAP dissolves its Gurdaspur, Pathankot units with immediate effect; leader of opposition Khaira says ‘not informed’

punjab Updated: Oct 14, 2017 22:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Gurdaspur bypoll,AAP,Bhagwant Mann
AAP Punjab president and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann(HT File)

Any political party would ideally wait for adverse poll results to go into damage control. But the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) does not consider such a formality a necessity. Conceding defeat a day before the Gurdaspur bypoll verdict, the party dissolved its units in Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts with immediate effect.

Party’s state secretary Gulshan Chhabra made the formal announcement on Saturday attributing the decision to “extensive deliberations and feedback” from the state president and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann and co-incharge Aman Arora, an MLA from Sunam.

Chhabra said the new structural units of both Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts would be announced soon after having detailed consultations and feedback from the party office-bearers and MLAs “who campaigned extensively” in the Gurdaspur byelection.

The decision also laid bare the chinks in the party unit. On why did the party not wait for the results, leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira, when contacted, said he had not been informed about the decision.

While AAP was the first to go off the block by announcing a candidate, Maj Gen Suresh Khajuria (retd), the party campaign, right from funding to planning, suffered major jolts.

Of nine of its candidates in the assembly segments in Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, five had joined rival camps. Party’s face in the 2014 parliamentary polls, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, had already been discredited and expelled by the party ahead of the state polls in February.

AAP’s Majha zone head and Qadian candidate Kamalpreet Singh Kaki abandoned the ship and joined the Shiromani Akali Dal soon after announcement of the bypoll. Party general secretary and Gurdaspur bypoll coordinator, Lakhvir Singh, defected to the Congress days ahead of the bypoll.

The phrase “who campaigned extensively” itself shows where lies the blame. According to party sources, two MLAS each were assigned duties in one assembly seat but not all camped there.

Party’s ally, Lok Insaaf Party, joined the campaign but the Bains brothers of Ludhiana, Balwinder and Simarjit, have no sway here and did not venture beyond Dera Baba Nanak seat.

“The campaign crumbled due to lack of support, strategy and planning. No funds came from Delhi. Most state leaders contributed from their own pocket, including Bains brothers. Party’s co-incharge Aman Arora returned from his foreign trip few days before the campaign ended,” sources said.

The AAP was also fighting the legacy of poor assembly results here. The party had failed to open its account in the Majha belt, which the Congress had swept.

Grappling with absence of local leaders to lead the campaign in the nine assembly segments, the AAP had also to contend with depleted cadre strength and morale.

Eventually, the bypoll which began as a three-horse race between the Congress, Akali Dal-BJP and the AAP, became a bipolar battle between the two ruling parties, one at the state and the other at the Centre, leaving AAP a persona non grata in the elections, despite Khajuria’s focusing his campaign on local issues and not political slander.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 22:33 IST