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Punjab cheer for AAP

New Delhi, May 16: The Aam Aadmi Party staged a surprise by winning four seats in Punjab but its national ambitions took a blow as the party drew a blank everywhere else, including Delhi.

Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, who had focused all his energy in Varanasi to defeat Narendra Modi, chose to take consolation over the performance in Punjab.

“There is churning in the country. No one knows where people will support or not support. We did not expect to get such a support in Punjab,” Kejriwal said in Varanasi.

The AAP not only won four out of 13 seats in Punjab but also secured a vote share of 24.4 per cent, just behind the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.

But it could not garner the mandatory six per cent votes in at least four states to become eligible for a national party status.

The party had put up 434 candidates across the country hoping the large number would garner enough votes to become eligible for the national party status.

The AAP candidates put up a spirited fight in all the seven seats of Delhi but could not withstand the Modi wave. The only consolation was that the party replaced the Congress by securing the second place in all the seats.

“We have a made a good start. The outcome in Delhi, however, is sad as we had expected better results. But we are not disappointed,” Kejriwal said.

He had flown to Varanasi today hoping he would trounce Modi but as the numbers tumbled out it became clear he had no hope. Modi was leading by a margin of over 3 lakh votes over Kejriwal. The only consolation was that Kejriwal stood second, ahead of Ajay Rai of the Congress.

Another high profile AAP candidate, Kumar Vishwas, who had challenged Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, lost his deposit. He managed to garner just over 24,000 votes and was placed at fourth position behind the BJP and the BSP.

Party leaders said they were paying for two “big mistakes”. One, to form the government in Delhi and then quitting it in a huff. Kejriwal acknowledged the mistake later but that could not repair the damage already done.

“People viewed us as very ambitious. We should have contested limited number of seats. The idea to concentrate all our energy in Varanasi was also a mistake,” said a top party leader.

The AAP would now need to worry about Assembly elections in Delhi that could be held later this year. Many leaders fear that they stand no chance now after the Modi sweep in the capital and the country. The whetted appetite to win the country could now rob them even of Delhi, which they had earned after lot of hard work.