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‘Early alert’ on Kejriwal home turf? AAP wins just 5 of 133 wards in Haryana civic polls

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was able to win just five of the 133 wards it contested in this week’s municipal elections in Haryana, and wrested control of just one civic body, data from the state election commission show.

Elections were held for 887 wards under 46 civic bodies in the state on 19 June. The results were announced Wednesday. 

Haryana is the home state of the AAP’s chief, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and shares borders with Delhi and Punjab — both ruled by the AAP. The party has been in power in Delhi since 2015 and recorded a resounding victory in Punjab on 10 March this year, winning 92 out of the state’s 117 assembly seats.

The result in the Haryana polls has come as a surprise for several party leaders, especially at a time when the AAP is trying to build on its Punjab victory to expand nationally — starting with states such as Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, both of which will see elections later this year.

Fresh from its Punjab victory, a senior AAP functionary said that the party had deputed at least 10 MLAs from that state to oversee preparations for the Haryana municipal polls, seen as a litmus test for the 2024 assembly elections. 

Another senior AAP leader in the state said the party had expected to do better in the civic polls 

“We have two more years before the state polls in Haryana, so we have time to scale up our work,” the leader, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint. “The recent municipal poll results have come as an early alert.”

Delhi MLA and the AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj — who’s jointly in charge of the party’s affairs in Haryana — said that the party’s performance should be seen in “a positive light”.

“There is mass support for the AAP in Haryana. That is why in such a short time we opened our account in the civic body polls,” he told ThePrint, adding, “The Haryana state polls are two years away. The good work that we do in Punjab and Delhi in the coming time will naturally give a push to our support base in Haryana.”

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Control of one civic body

Data from the states election commission, accessed by ThePrint, shows that out of the 133 wards that the AAP contested in 45 municipal bodies, it won only five — one ward each in Naraingarh (Ambala district), Pehowa (Kurukshetra) and Sohna (Gurgaon district), and two in Ratia (Fatehabad district).

The AAP didn’t contest the elections in one municipal body, Nangal Chaudhary in Mahendragarh district. 

The party managed to wrest control of just one of 45 civic bodies. Its only candidate elected to a president’s post was Nisha Kano Vanga in the Ismailabad Municipal Committee, Kurukshetra.  

In comparison, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won top posts in 22 civic bodies and its ally, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) won in three. Independent candidates were elected to the top positions of 19 civic bodies, the state election commission’s data shows.

The Congress did not contest the elections but its leader, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, said in a statement that the party backed several independent candidates. 

“Independent candidates [backed by the Congress] have won about 19 seats out of 46 municipal [committee] and municipal council seats and finished second in 30 places in close contests,” he said. 

Independent candidates won in 815 of 887 wards, Haryana election commission records show.

Struggling for votes

The election commission’s data showed that the AAP stood second in 13 wards but its candidates got less than 100 votes in at least 60.

In comparison, the BJP won 60 out of 136 wards it contested, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won in one of three it contested, and the Indian National Lok Dal won six out of 23 contested.

The AAP has been contesting polls in Haryana since 2014 but is yet to score any major wins. In the 2014 general election, the party contested and lost all 10 of the state’s Lok Sabha seats. In 2019, the party unsuccessfully fielded three candidates for the general election and 46 candidates for the state assembly. 

Praveen Rai, a political analyst with the Centre for Study of Developing Societies, said it would be unfair to compare the AAP’s position in Punjab and Haryana.

“The AAP has been working in Haryana for several years now but has not been able to build a solid support base there. In Punjab, the AAP had occupied the spot of the political alternative. That is yet to happen in Haryana,” he said, adding, “They have a lot of work to do in the state in the next two years”.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

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Source: The Print

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