Aam Admi Party’s landslide win in Punjab and the BJP’s emphatic wins in four other States will impact who get to occupy the leadership position among Opposition parties in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who recently quit the Congress, said AAP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) were the principal engines of an alternative political discourse.
“The election results signal the endgame for the Congress as the natural party of governance. An alternative political narrative is emerging, with the AAP and the TMC as its principal engines, with a ragtag Congress desperately pretending to be relevant,” Mr. Kumar said.
The Punjab victory not only gives AAP and its convenor Arvind Kejriwal the momentum to emerge as an alternative in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, States where the political contest alternates between the BJP and the Congress, but also an edge over Trinamool’s Mamata Banerjee and Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s K. Chandrashekar Rao to be the Opposition’s face against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At the time of writing this report, the AAP had not only opened its account in Goa but was leading on two seats, same as the TMC.
Senior Congress leaders claimed that that Mr. Kejriwal was now focussing on Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, States that go to polls later this year. “While we performed miserably in the Gujarat civic polls, AAP put up an impressive performance and are now focussed on Assembly polls,” said a senior leader.
Congress’s dismal show
Another leader from Congress’s group of 23 (G-23) leaders – the group pressing for internal reforms – asserted that the grand old party could no longer claim to be a rallying point for the Opposition for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“In politics, you can win or lose, but we seem to be hell bent on destroying ourselves in Punjab. Despite our MPs cautioning Sonia-ji [Congress president Sonia Gandhi], she went ahead and made Navjot Sidhu the Punjab Congress chief, because Priyanka Gandhi [Vadra] pushed for his case. That alone was a turning point in Punjab,” he said.
“All centrist secular and Left parties must draw proper lessons from these results. It’s not a question of one face or one party, but how the democratic forces will unite and mutually accommodate each other for a larger political goal,” CPI general secretary D. Raja said.