ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Whither Punjab Politics?

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The Congress party under Amarinder Singh has secured a landslide victory in the Punjab legislative assembly elections. Riding on a popular anti-incumbency wave against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government, it has also warded off the challenge of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The victory is high in symbolism: it restores popular governance by the Congress in a state where its history is chequered with the victimisation of the majority Sikh community and, perhaps, more importantly, provides a bridgehead for the revival of the grand old partys fortunes in the central states. Masterminded by Prashant Kishor, an ex-Narendra Modi strategist and his 7,000-strong Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), the Congress succeeded in capturing a majority of the rural Sikh, urban Hindu and Dalit votes. It has once again emerged as a catch-all party with 38.4% of the popular vote, though its overall vote share actually declined by 1.5% in 2012.

The AAP failed to make a decisive breakthrough as a third force in the state. Although it captured 23.9% of the vote, the party secured only 20 seats and almost one-third of these were from reserved constituencies (for Scheduled Castes). The failure to replicate its May 2014 Lok Sabha election performance in the assembly elections, has been attributed to a high level of factionalism in the partys campaign, mismanagement, and insensitivities to regional interests. AAPs high voltage media campaign drew dividends in the Malwa belt but its overall impact was to transfer the anti-SAD vote to the advantage of Congress. AAP has gained a foothold but not an instant capture of the state that it was anticipating. It remains to be seen, as with the communist vote in the past, whether AAP fizzles out.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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