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AAP heads for landslide win in Punjab, Congress & Akali Dal stare at rout

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party is leading on 88 seats, while the Akali Dal and Congress are leading on 8 and 13 seats, respectively, in the 117-member Punjab assembly.

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Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is surging towards a landslide victory in Punjab while the state’s traditional parties — Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — are staring at a rout, according to initial trends of the assembly poll results on the Election Commission website.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party is leading in at least 88 seats, while the Akali Dal and Congress are leading on 8 and 13 seats, respectively, in the 117-member Punjab assembly.

If AAP manages to retain this majority in the assembly, as the leads show, Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann will be the new chief minister of Punjab.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leading in five seats, while its ally, former CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress (PLC), is leading in one seat.  

Following his exit from the Congress, Amarinder had formed his own party and allied with the BJP and the Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led SAD (Sanyukt). While the BJP contested on 65 seats, the PLC fielded candidates on 37 seats and SAD (Sanyukt) on 15. 

The Akali Dal had entered into an alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), giving it 20 seats to contest.


Also Read: Win or lose, AAP’s Punjab show will redefine India’s politics


Traditional parties lost out due to infighting, farm laws

The AAP’s central plank in the election was the “Delhi model of governance”, as it showcased welfare schemes and achievements of the AAP regime in education and health sectors in the national capital and welfare schemes.

The Congress, which seemed to be comfortably placed after the year-long farmers’ agitation against the now-repealed farm laws, may have shot itself in the foot by forcing Amarinder to resign as CM last September. 

At that time, the AAP, which had emerged as the principal opposition party with 20 seats in 2017, didn’t seem to be in the reckoning. It was wrecked by prolonged infighting, with many prominent leaders walking out.  

The Akali Dal had also found itself on the political margins as its support base among Jatt Sikh farmers appeared to have weakened after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, of which the SAD was a part, announced the contentious farm laws. Although the Akali Dal had subsequently pulled out of the NDA over the farm laws, it is clear it was a little too late in doing so.

The Congress, then led by Amarinder, and the AAP, had backed the farmers’ agitation. The Congress appeared to be in an advantageous position months before the polls, but the Gandhi family’s decision to oust Captain at the instance of his detractor Navjot Singh Sidhu created turmoil in the party, which dealt it a significant blow. 

The Congress’ gambit of installing a Dalit Sikh, Charanjit Singh Channi, as the chief minister in a state with a 32 per cent Scheduled Caste (SC) population didn’t seem to impress voters, with Sidhu constantly sniping at the new CM as well. The Congress looked like a divided, disorderly house, which alienated a large section of voters. 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)


Also Read: All parties in Punjab talk ‘aam aadmi’, but field crorepatis — 93% for SAD, 91% Congress, 69% AAP


 

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