Home » latest » ‘Failing to deliver the goods in Jalandhar’ a reality check for AAP, its bypoll face Rinku
failing to deliver the goods in jalandhar a reality check for aap its bypoll face rinku

‘Failing to deliver the goods in Jalandhar’ a reality check for AAP, its bypoll face Rinku

Both the Aam Aadmi Party and Sushil Kumar Rinku, who won by a landslide last year in the bypoll to Jalandhar parliamentary constituency on an AAP ticket, may have a tough time to retain the seat this time as, according to the voters, “they haven’t fulfilled the promises made in the run-up to the byelection last year”. Rinku had vowed to transform Jalandhar into a beacon of progress. The AAP had promised to turn Jalandhar into a model constituency, but “things on the ground leave a lot to be desired”, according to residents The Indian Express spoke to. Rinku, meanwhile, joined the BJP recently and was fielded by the saffron party on Saturday to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the same seat. Voters that The Indian Express spoke to appeared to be disillusioned after finding no signs of a turnaround in Jalandhar as “promised by the AAP during the bypoll last year”, and this “failure to turn Jalandhar parliamentary seat into a model constituency” could be a reality check for the AAP. “Bringing a huge change and development in Jalandhar was their (AAP) main poll plank in 2023 byelection, but there is hardly any change on the ground in the constituency after Sushil Kumar Rinku became AAP MP. As he was aware that he would be questioned by people during this election on the promises made by him at that time, and he hasn’t delivered the goods, so he decided to switch to the BJP. Rinku had said then that his priority would be to complete the pending projects of Smart City (Jalandhar is in the Smart City list), the Adampur flyover and others, but nothing has been done. He thinks changing the party would help him,” said a resident of Bhargo camp area here. In the run-up to the bypoll, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal had then passionately called on the voters to rally behind the party candidate (Rinku), urging them (electorate) to grant them (AAP) “11 months” to showcase their capabilities promising that they won’t come to seek votes again if they fail to deliver the goods. “Give us 11 months and if you don’t like our work then don’t vote for us in 2024 Lok Sabha elections. You can then forfeit our security deposits,” was the common appeal both Mann and Kejriwal made to the voters then. The voters trusted the AAP and made its candidate (Rinku) the MP who won the bypoll with a huge margin of 58,691 votes. After the victory, Kejriwal had said people of Jalandhar “have put a stamp on their development work ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections”, while Mann had said, “We will do tremendous work in Jalandhar in the next 11 months.and we will win all 13 Lok Sabha seats in 2024.” Jalandhar was the lone Lok Sabha seat held by the AAP in Punjab in 2023. Rinku had joined the AAP after quitting the Congress last year, and now he is with the BJP. The AAP’s ambitious plans for massive development in the constituency have faltered, casting doubt on its ability to deliver on its electoral promises. Though practically there wasn’t much time to usher in the development the AAP leaders promised, still they said, “Jalandhar nu Chamka devange, je tusi Jharoo da battan dabbya (Vote for AAP and we will make Jalandhar shine bright)”. They both said that pressing the “broom (AAP symbol) button in the EVM” – means “pressing the button of tremendous development, progress and prosperity of the constituency”. The road to fulfilling their promises in such a short time of 11 months was always a tall order, with monumental tasks such as building a hospital akin to PGIMER, Chandigarh, repairing dilapidated roads, and addressing the pervasive issue of garbage heaps. Despite announcing ample funds (around Rs 100 crore) for development just after the bypoll last year, “the AAP’s efforts to bring the promised change in Jalandhar haven’t been up to the mark”, according to Jalandhar residents. The residents’ initial excitement dwindled over time which is now replaced by a growing sense of disillusionment among them, who were eagerly waiting to see the “promised turnaround” in Jalandhar. “Jalandhar is still having those bad roads, the Adampur flyover project is still pending, while the heaps of garbage are growing with each passing day. There is hardly any change in the life of common man,” Jarnail Singh, a resident of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Avenue, which is one of the posh localities (under-development) of Jalandhar, said, adding that in their localities dirty ponds and damaged roads are a reality, it’s there for everyone to see. As the Opposition parties have also been cornering the AAP on its ‘unfulfilled poll promises’ and lingering issues like potholed roads and garbage-laden streets, it appears to be a daunting challenge for the AAP to hold its own. Boasting (after Rinku’s victory) that there are total four AAP MPs from Jalandhar including three Rajya Sabha members (Balbir Singh Seechewal, Ashok Mittal, and former cricketer Harbhajan Singh), Kejriwal and Mann used to say that the collective grant of MPLAD funds for one year is Rs 20 crore which will be spent on the development of Jalandhar district. But voters in general that The Indian Express spoke to in Jalandhar feel that the AAP could not live up to the expectations in this constituency, and “now they (AAP) have to showcase Jalandhar’s development work in the other 12 Lok Sabha constituencies in Punjab” which is likely to give them a tough time with the electorate as people do not believe in rhetoric, they want tangible results. Punjab had four AAP MPs in 2014. In 2019, AAP fielded candidates on all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab but only Bhagwant Mann could retain his seat in Sangrur. He remained the lone AAP MP from Punjab before vacating his seat for taking charge as the chief minister in 2022. However, the AAP could not retain Sangrur in the byelection held a few months after the assembly elections in which the party had come to power winning 92 of the 117 seats. AAP working president in Punjab and MLA for Budhlada, Budh Ram, when contacted, acknowledged that the AAP had made significant promises during the 2023 Jalandhar byelection. AAP’s senior leaders had pledged to transform Jalandhar into a model constituency within 11 months, aiming to showcase it as an exemplary developed region for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, despite the assurances, Jalandhar continues to grapple with issues such as poor roads, garbage accumulation, and an inadequate sanitation system. The AAP working president pointed out that the local municipal corporation is not under the control of the AAP which had limited their ability to undertake substantial development initiatives in the area. (The local body is governed by the Congress). Nevertheless, he highlighted several successful programmes initiated by the AAP in entire Punjab including the provision of free power to 90% of the population, the establishment of mohalla clinics, the creation of thousands of government jobs, and efforts to improve government-run schools. These programmes have been well-received by the public despite the challenges faced in Jalandhar, he said.

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