AAP stares at bleak future in Punjab

Chandigarh, May 23 (PTI) The fate of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab appears to be bleak with the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit facing almost decimation in the Lok Sabha elections.
Of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the faction-ridden party is leading only from Sangrur, where its state unit chief Bhagwant Mann is seeking re-election.
It had won four Lok Saba seats in 2014 with 24 per cent vote share in the state.
Despite emerging as the main opposition party in the Punjab assembly in 2017, it was in total disarray these Lok Sabha elections.
The problems began for the party when its national convener Arvind Kejriwal sought an apology from SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia for levelling charges over the issue of drugs in March 2018, drawing the ire of several party legislators, led by Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
The removal of Khaira from the post of the leader of opposition triggered a rebellion in the party with eight of MLAs raising the banner of revolt, demanding autonomy.
Khaira quit the party and floated the Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) earlier this year. His party contested the elections as part of the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA).
The central leadership of AAP though appointed Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia as the in-charge of the party’s Punjab unit, he failed to put the house in order.
The party suffered a setback ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, when two of its MLAs–Amarjit Singh Sandoa and Nazar Singh Manshahia–joined the Congress.
The party’s poor performance can be gauged from the fact that its candidates in Ludhiana, Patiala, Khadoor Sahib, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Fatehgarh Sahib and Anandpur Sahib stood fourth.
AAP’s Faridkot MP Sadhu Singh remained on the third spot as per the trends.
Meanwhile, the PDA failed to offer an alternative in the state politics. Only Simarjeet Singh Bains of the Lok Insaf Party, who fought the elections as part of the PDA from Ludhiana after parting ways with AAP, gave some challenge to the Congress. He lost to sitting MP Ravneet Singh Bittu.
Interestingly, the elections saw some increase in the support to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Anandpur Sahib as its candidates remained at the third spot in these constituencies.

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