Facing leadership crisis in Himachal Pradesh, AAP falls back on announcing ‘freebies’ ahead of Assembly polls

Aam Aadmi Party has promised free education to every child in Himachal Pradesh if voted to power in the upcoming Assembly elections

AAP leader Manish Sisodia (File photo)
AAP leader Manish Sisodia (File photo)

Bipin Bhardwaj

Ahead of Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had virtually halted its election campaign there following a crisis in its state unit, on Wednesday came to action again, with its senior leadership alluring people with ‘freebies’.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann have promised free education to every child in Himachal Pradesh if voted to power in the upcoming elections.

They were addressing a gathering of workers and sympathisers in Town Hall, Shimla.

Sisodia, under the ‘education guarantee’ on the lines of AAP-led Delhi government, promised that apart from free education, the state of schools and infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh would be overhauled, private schools won’t be allowed to hike fee ‘illegally’, teachers will not be given non-teaching duties, contractual and temporary teachers will be regularised and vacant posts of teachers will be filled.

Punjab CM Mann went on list the achievements of his government in Punjab during the last four months.

The party's Rajya Sabha member Sandeep Pathak and Himachal Pradesh unit chief Surjeet Thakur were also present on the occasion.

Though the APP had received an overwhelming public response during its road shows held in Mandi and Kangra, its graph saw a major decline following the leadership crisis in the state. The party then had to keep its events, held in Hamirpur and some other places, low profile. Kejriwal, Mann and some other senior party leaders even gave a miss to a party function in Solan last month.

It may be recalled that the Himachal Pradesh unit of the AAP had received its first jolt when its state president Anoop Kesri quit the party and joined the BJP a day after the Mandi roadshow. The party then dissolved its entire state unit and its senior leaders took matters into their hands, with Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain taking charge of state elections.

However, Satyendar Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case.

Subsequently, AAP’s defeat in Sangrur Lok Sabha bye-election in Punjab and displaying of Khalistani flags on the main gate of the Vidhan Sabha and its premises in Dharamsala further put the party on the mat.

Recently, Surjeet Thakur was appointed by the AAP as its state president. Thakur, who was a low-profile worker in the party, is known for his unquestioned loyalty towards the AAP bigwigs in Delhi and his devotion to the party.

Political analysts opined that the biggest challenge that the party faced in the state was the lack of a credible and acceptable face to lead its poll campaign.

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