In Delhi AAP stands for Aam Admi Party. In Punjab, where AAP’s four electoral victories shocked both the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, AAP stands for Abandoned Angry People. AAP did well in Punjab’s Malwa region because the four districts of Patiala, Sangrur, Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib because the Malwa region has the maximum number of Angry and Abandoned People – farmers and farm labourers engaged in a back-to-the-wall struggle to survive, widows and orphans of those same farmers and farm labourers whom the struggle defeated.
Over the past four decades the Akalis (led by Prakash Singh Badal four times and Surjit Barnala once) were at the helm of affairs for 17 years; in this same period, the Congress ruled for 18 years. These governments could not bring themselves to admit the rapidly deteriorating condition of the villages – it would have meant giving the lie to the oft-trumpeted declaration that ‘prosperous’ Punjab was India’s agricultural showcase.
In these 40-plus years, these people have been crying out to the willfully blind and stone-deaf state government. Did even a single leader heed their distress? Amarinder at least set up the Farmers’ Commission to go into the problem and recommend ameliorative measures. Perhaps because of this and the abrogation of the river-waters treaty he fell from favour with his own party.
AAP articulated the misery of the rural people and that struck a chord with the voters. The very fact that AAP’s votes came from the Malwa belt shows that addressing the issue of agrarian crisis – not in theory but as reflected in the actual lives of people – has carried the party to victory. AAP should learn this lesson and apply it on an all-India basis if they want popular support to swell.