The astonishing rise of the AAP will impact the political landscape of Haryana

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The astonishing victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Punjab parliamentary elections is likely to influence the political landscape of neighboring Haryana. Not much of an entity in Haryana so far, Arvind Kejriwal’s outfit hit the mark in the 2019 assembly elections, securing less than 60,000 votes in 46 assembly seats it was contesting.

However, the Punjab victory has fueled a debate in political circles in Haryana over the possibilities for the party to expand its footprint in a state flanked by Delhi as well as Punjab, both ruled by the AAP.

Political leaders estimate that about 20 to 30 frontline leaders from all parties in the state will be eager to test the electoral waters under the AAP banner.

“A number of BJP MPs, mainly those who left Congress to join the Saffron Party, a significant number of Congressmen, JJP leaders, including sitting MPs, may be the first to approach the hierarchy of the AAP,” said a political pundit.

Balraj Kundu, Meham’s first independent MP, said the expected resurgence of the AAP in Haryana could trigger an exodus from all major political parties.

“A lot of people have called me since yesterday and asked me to think about a political round with the AAP. I also want to establish a separate identity for myself,” Kundu said. The legislator said that since the people in the state had no alternative, their options were limited.

“However, if the AAP can position itself as an alternative to the BJP and Congress, a new political dimension will emerge. Dynastic politics will be wiped out like in Punjab,” he said.

Political pundits said many frontline leaders who left Congress and joined the BJP in hopes of greener pastures have been disappointed with the saffron party. “As they are not from the Sangh Parivar and are seen as outsiders, they don’t carry too much weight in the BJP. These leaders are watching the trajectory of the AAP closely,” he said.

Professor Ashutosh Kumar, a political scientist from Panjab University, Chandigarh, said AAP’s tremendous victory in Punjab will certainly boost its stock in neighboring Haryana.

“The AAP cannot sweep Haryana like it did in Punjab. But I expect the party to become a powerful political force by the 2024 state assembly polls in Haryana A number of political leaders from all parties could actually change direction,” he said.

Prof Kumar said that with Congress in a state of decline and there is intense infighting within the party, the big old party might actually give space to the AAP.

AAP MP Rajya Sabha and Haryana party leader Sushil Gupta said since yesterday he was getting calls from political leaders who wanted to join the party. “In fact, it’s surprising that the majority of politicians who called were from the BJP,” Gupta said.

The AAP leader said earlier that the party was unlikely to inspire confidence in the people of Haryana. “The lack of confidence in our ability to win a full state is a thing of the past after the Punjab victory,” he said.

On the party’s strategy in the state, Gupta said they will contest the upcoming municipal elections over the party’s symbol.

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