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Not AAP, Congress main rival in Punjab: BJP


The "misdeeds" of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi have "exposed its real character" and it is not a force in Punjab politics anymore, BJP vice-president Prabhat Jha has said, adding that the Congress is the main rival of the state’s Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance.

Jha, who is the BJP’s Punjab in-charge, also claimed that the ruling alliance would create history by securing its third consecutive victory in the assembly polls, expected to be held early next year.

Jha said the BJP would contest 23 seats in the 117-member assembly while the SAD will contest the remaining 94. He also said that it was for the SAD to decide its chief ministerial candidate and the BJP’s role was that of an "elder brother" in the alliance.

"AAP is nowhere in Punjab… our contest is with the Congress," Jha said in an interview.

He said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will be the main face of SAD-BJP campaign in the state.

"’Bade Badal’ has devoted his whole life for the people of Punjab. Serving the people of Punjab is his worship," Jha said.

Hitting out at the AAP, which has seen some desertions in Punjab over the past few days, Jha said the party lacks a state leader. "Due to this, they have people who in the past have been seen with Khalistani elements. This is going to harm the state," Jha contended.

The BJP leader, who was is also the party’s Delhi in-charge, said the AAP’s resounding victory in Delhi was "an accident for politics in India". "People just voted for them as they were angry with the two other parties. It was a bitter saga of Indian politics," he said.

He said that conditions in Delhi and Punjab were "different" and a lot had changed since then.

"There is a lot of difference between Delhi and Punjab. There was a different kind of atmosphere in Delhi. They won 67 seats after winning 32 seats in an earlier election. But in Punjab it is not the case. They have four MPs but three have revolted against the party and the fourth (Bhagwant Maan) is under scrutiny for his role in putting a video of parliament on social media," he said.

He said the AAP has lost its credibility by actions of its government in Delhi. "They talk about ethics and principles in politics but do not abide by them. Their real character is visible to the people now. Their leaders have made headlines for wrong reasons. Be it Sandeep Kumar or Bhagwant Maan or anybody else."

Sandeep Kumar was dropped from the cabinet and suspended from the AAP after a video showed him in a compromising position with a woman. He was arrested after the woman complained of rape. His wife, however, continues to stand by him.

Jha, a Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh, also said that the AAP government in Delhi has been on a constant path of confrontation with the central government.

"Has it ever happened in Indian democracy that a bureaucrat who accidentally becomes Chief Minister, and that too of a union territory, challenges the Prime Minister and alleges that the PM may have him murdered," Jha asked.

Answering a query on cicketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has decided to float a party after resigning from the BJP, Jha said everybody has a right to take his own decisions in a democracy.

"He is not our problem. Basically, he was a cricketer and is not a leader. He has as much understanding of politics as a cricketer has."

Jha said that the "drug problem" will not be a major election issue in the state and accused the AAP and the Congress of "defaming" the Punjab, which has several laurels to its credit in fields ranging from agriculture to sports.

"At an army recruitment camp not even one percent of youth from the state were found to be drug addicts. The AAP and the Congress have challenged the dignity of Punjab. The youth of the state are against them," he said.