Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial face for Punjab remains a mystery. It is the only party yet to announce its candidate. The opposition parties have been challenging Arvind Kejriwal -considered an outsider in Punjab - to announce the name.
The AAP supremo has been giving strange answers whenever asked to comment on the party's CM candidate for the state. "He will be a Punjabi", "this question is not important" or "it will be decided by the public" is what he has been saying.
Party feedback says it will remain silent on the issue till the elections are over. If it wins a majority vote, the next Punjab chief minister could be Kejriwal. The answer to the question whether Kejriwal himself will be contesting the elections is also shrouded in mystery.
"Kejriwal is a mysterious person. It is difficult to read him. We should believe him that he will not field his wife but he may contest the elections himself," says his long-time close associate and election analyst Yogendra Yadav.
But we have five reasons to believe Kejriwal may be eyeing the top post in Punjab:
1) Kejriwal has been chopping off every head which rose against him or which might have dashed his hopes to become chief minister. Sucha Singh Chotepur, Harinder Singh Khalsa, Dr Dharamveera Gandhi are a few names which were axed from the party to clear the way. Another prominent face is HS Phoolka who was not even considered for the post of party convener after Chotepur resigned. The post was showered on comedian Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi who had joined the party six months back.
2) Navjot Singh Sidhu, who may have been the chief ministerial candidate, was asked not to contest the elections. Instead his wife was offered a ticket. Now there are rumours that AAP is offering the deputy CM's post to Sidhu. The question is, for whom is the CM berth being "reserved"?
3) The New Delhi dream has almost turned sour for AAP as 10 out of 67 MLAs are in jail, facing serious cases. The party has also been exposed in Punjab for allegedly selling tickets. Despite the tall promises made by Kejriwal that he will live in Delhi to serve the people for five years, he is out of Delhi most of the time and touring Punjab, Goa or Gujarat. Ruling Punjab will be better than New Delhi as it is a full-fledged state unlike Delhi where the AAP government is on the mercy of the Lt-Governor or the Union government.
|Navjot Singh Sidhu could have been the CM candidate. (Photo credit: India Today)|
4) While almost all political parties including the Congress and SAD have announced their CM candidates, AAP has been avoiding the announcement despite the presence of suitable people for the post such as HS Phoolka, Bhagwant Mann, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and others. When asked, Kejriwal himself says the CM will be decided by the public. It seems AAP will rig a referendum to elect a chief minister after the elections are over.
In fact, AAP has an "outsider" tag in Punjab as none of the leaders, including Kejriwal, are Punjabis or Sikhs. The CM candidates announced by the Congress and Akali Dal (Captain Amarinder Singh and Parkash Singh Badal, respectively) are not only Sikhs but also born-Punjabis.
Interestingly, Kejriwal has found a novel way to establish that he is a Punjabi. Expelled Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar, who announced his support to AAP recently, astonished everyone in Ludhiana last week when he called Kejriwal a "born Punjabi", saying that he was born in undivided Punjab when Haryana was not born.
Kejriwal and his men usually parry questions pertaining to his chief minister dreams and him being an outsider. His simple answer is: "Who will lead the government is not important, what is important is the state's drug problem, corruption and (the Badals or Bikram Singh Majithia)."
5) Another prominent reason to believe in Kejriwal's CM dreams is his plan to stay in Punjab for long. This is another move to counter the "outsider" tag. A palatial house is being constructed for the AAP supremo in Phillaur near Jalandhar where he will pitch his "khoonta".