A season of political surprises

From Congress making Dikshit as UP CM candidate to the party’s win in Arunachal Pradesh, from Navjot Singh Sidhu quitting BJP to possibly joining AAP, the year unfolds with unexpected political moves and many more to come

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Rahul Dass | July 19, 2016


#Kejriwal   #Navjot Singh   #Punjab   #Arunachal Pradesh   #UP   #elections   #BJP   #Congress   #Prashant Kishore  

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@sherryontopp

This is no laughing matter. Navjot Singh Sidhu, a former Indian cricketer who guffaws throughout The Kapil Sharma Show on television, has quit the BJP and his Rajya Sabha seat and there is a distinct possibility of his joining the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) just months ahead of the Punjab assembly election.

The nattily dressed Sidhu, better known for his witty one-liners on television, could become the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate for the state where the Badals are facing a huge backlash on corruption and an anti-incumbency wave.

For the AAP, Sidhu could be a masterstroke as it hopes to repeat its resounding success of Delhi elections in 2015 [where it had won 67 of the 70 seats] in Punjab. The AAP had already thrown a surprise from Punjab by winning four seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time the party is seeing a clear majority for itself in Punjab.

AAP has been working systematically across Punjab and has already put its party machinery in place. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s squeaky clean image coupled with motor-mouth Sidhu’s intent to battle corruption, may well be the turning point for state’s politics.

As events quickly unfold in Punjab, in Uttar Pradesh too, the political developments are fast paced and sometimes, unexpected. The Congress made an ageing Sheila Dikshit its chief ministerial candidate for politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh.

The 78-year-old Sheila Dikshit has served three consecutive terms as chief minister of Delhi from 1998 to 2013. The decision to make her as UP chief minister candidate certainly foxed many, indicating the acute and debilitating shortage of leaders within the Congress.
It seems political strategist Prashant Kishor had come up with the idea of making Sheila as party leader in the Assembly elections to woo the sizeable Brahmin voters. The Congress has played it safe by picking the ageing Sheila for her caste affiliation instead of a younger leader who could infuse life into the party. 

Will the party regret putting off young voters with its choice of CM candidate or will it reap the harvest of careful planning by Kishor in a scene where caste matters the most?

Another development that shows how edgy politics can be, took place in Arunachal Pradesh. The BJP was sure of forming the government. But that was not to be. The Congress, in a dramatic edge-of-the-seat move, managed to get back its flock and went on to form the government. Pema Khandu, 37, was sworn in as chief minister.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the Congress working its magic in Arunachal Pradesh. Perhaps, the Congress would be better off if it listens more intently to those who ensured its success in Arunachal Pradesh than those who suggested desperate measures in UP.

 

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