Safe to say that everything hasn’t been well in Punjab. It is evident from election manifestos, articles and political discussions that drug addiction is severely damaging the state. As per 2012 stats, the drug addiction rate in Punjab was 234% higher than the country’s average. A survey conducted by Punjab Opioid Dependence in 2015 also found that 230,000 people in the state were using drugs.
Akali Dal which is part of the incumbent Akali-BJP coalition has time and again come under scanner for its alleged links with narcotics mafia. Anger against the Akalis has grown to such an extent that many political experts suggested BJP to break coalition with them for the 2017 election. With the incumbents virtually written off, and the Congress party providing the same old alternative, Punjab was an ideal breeding ground for the Aam Aadmi Party.
From the beginning of 2016, reports, articles and editorials started emphasizing on the possibility of AAP winning the state. But as the year progressed, the Aam Aadmi Party mounted so many problems for itself that now these problems are threatening its dream of Punjab domination.
The Succa Singh Chotepur saga:
Succa Singh Chotepur, the chief of the Punjab AAP, was sacked from his post after a sting operation emerged showing a man leaving a packet of cash with him. In his defense, Chotepur claimed that the man was referred to him by two Senior party leaders. After this, the political affairs committee of the AAP formed a disciplinary committee to probe allegations against him. Things took an interesting turn after Succa Singh Chotepur’s supporters released photos and audios implying that other AAP leaders also accepted bribes. Not only that, he also alleged AAP for selling party for the upcoming Punjab polls. On 30th September, Chotepur floated his own party called the Apna Punjab Party or the APP. The sabotage against Chotepur angle received more credence after AAP shelved the probe in the corruption sting against Chotepur, citing its futility since he left AAP.
Bhagwant Mann fiasco:
As per many reports, Bhagwant Mann is speculated as the possible CM candidate for Punjab AAP. Mann landed himself in a huge controversy after he shot a video inside the parliament premises, which gave away security positions inside the parliament. A lot has also been written and discussed about his alcohol addiction. Not only his fellow MPs have raised concerns about Mann coming drunk in the Parliament, Mann was also forced to leave a bhog because he was very drunk. Former MPs of AAP have claimed that Kejriwal was fully aware of Mann’s addiction.
Arvind Kejriwal himself:
Punjab makes a sizable chunk of the Indian armed forces. It is believed that Kejriwal alienated a sizable amount of Punjab electorate after asking for proof of the Surgical strikes carried out by the Indian army. He annoyed many of his followers after unnecessary dragging and politicizing the surgical strike issue.
AAP whipping up Khalistani sentiment:
AAP was in news for giving platforms to Khalistani separatists. Apart from reports, political parties and individuals have spoken about AAP receiving support from Pro-Khalistan radical Sikh groups. Congress leader like Amarinder Singh and AAP’s own MP Dharamveer Gandhi have also spoken about it. In February 2016, AAP campaingn posters showing Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale sparked controversies.
Rebels threatening to derail the ship:
Even though the Punjab wing of the AAP is barely three years old, it has already created a serious rebellion. The rebel group constituting of rebel volunteers, workers and ticket aspirants earlier decided to contest 59 seats, and later announced that they may contest for all the 117 seats in the Punjab polls. The also invited all disgruntled AAP leaders except Succa Singh Chotepur into their fold.
Tickets being provided to children of seasoned criminals:
In a Twitter expose carried out by Anshul Saxena, Manjit Singh Sidhu who got a ticket from AAP belongs to a controversial family. According to Anshul, Manjit’s father Mohinder Singh Sailbrah has 7 cases against him.
1) Today AAP announces 5 more candidates for Punjab Polls. From Rampura Phull, Manjit Singh Sidhu selected, His father has 7 criminal cases.— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) December 4, 2016
As pointed in this thread, Manjit’s father has serious cases like attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, kidnapping and rioting pending against him.
Open letter to Kejriwal by an AAP leader:
Finally as Quaithe tells Daenerys Targaryen, “To go forward you must go back.” In order to go ahead lets go all the way back to the Punjab’s drug problem, from which we began the story. Kejriwal promises to make Punjab drug free in one month, but in a open letter written to Kejriwal by Virinder Singh Parihar, co-ordinator NRI wing and fundraising of the AAP, he has claimed that the observers whom Kejriwal sent to Punjab were themselves addicted to drugs. He also blamed that observers are involved in ticket selling and money laundering. He further claimed that AAP has collected almost Rs 200 crores in illegal cash from the people of Punjab.
Two days back, Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted a paper cutting which claims that AAP leaders are drugging people for political gains. This is again going to harm AAP a lot
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 8, 2016
AAP started with a very good momentum, but as the election dates are approaching, it seems AAP is losing ground. After drama on the surgical strike, Arvind Kejriwal has created a ruckus around demonetisation. Coincidentally, the sudden withdrawal of AAP from CMC election after demonetisation strengthens Parihar’s claims of illegal cash collected by AAP. It would be interesting to see how AAP will fight against all these issues.