The survey by India Today-Axis Opinion poll released on Thursday said the Congress is likely to emerge as the single largest party with 49 to 55 seats in the 2017 Punjab assembly polls. The survey gave Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 42-46 seats in the 117-seat Punjab assembly and predicted a rout for the ruling SAD-BJP alliance at 17-21 seats. In totality, it means that if Punjab goes to polls today the Congress will emerge as the largest party but will fall short of a majority. Notably, this situation is not acceptable to any of major players and they have outrightly rejected the survey reports. While dubbing it ‘biased’, ‘too hypothetical’, ‘far from factual position’ and even ‘paid one’, all major political parties, in their own ways, tried to project themselves bigger than others.
It was interesting to go by the ‘post survey’ debate organised by the news channel. Where Captain Amarinder Singh, who has been shown as the most acceptable face for becoming the next Chief Minister of Punjab, also raised question mark over the statistical report, stating that it didn’t attract him much as the figures change in surveys quite rapidly with also quoting a report came about a month back, where his party was shown getting just 25 seats. Further, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to which the survey suggested rapidly growing and standing second tallest as of now flatly denied accepting the report. The AAP’s state affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh went on accusing the channel management of running a biased report with also accusing them of doing it all to mint money only.
With Congress and AAP not convinced with the survey report, the channel moderator was also having a task to pacify SAD’s Prem Singh Chandumajra and BJP’s Vineet Joshi, who too were terming the surveyors projecting a picture ‘having no relevancy’ on ground. The two spokespersons of SAD and BJP, the parties which run the government in Punjab in alliance, were quite loud in countering the anti-incumbency claim of the surveyors. All the guests were equipped with data showing how the much-hyped poll surveys fell flat in the previous elections in Delhi as well as Punjab.
In all, finding the things taking unpleasant turn with all guests questioning the credibility of the channel and the survey agency, the moderator had to take a call for putting it to an end without a ceremonial closure. Irrespective of this ‘controversial’ poll survey, one can say that the results of Punjab Assembly elections, scheduled to take place during the first half of 2017, are very difficult to predict. In the whole episode there are various important links which are missing till date and without taking them under consideration the reports can hardly be digested.
The major factor, which one can’t ignore while going for such assessment is the names and faces of people contesting against each other on each segment. While the Congress has informally declared Amarinder Singh as the CM face and the SAD-BJP will also have much to think while projecting the five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the upcoming battle, the AAP is yet to come up with the decision. Once the AAP gives name of its CM candidate, it is certain for the whole graph seeing major changes.
Further, the recent reports have suggested that the cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is planning to ally his Awaaz-e-Punjab with Congress in the state. With Pargat Singh and Bains Brothers also in touch with the Congress, people want to see the settlement first before making their mind as all four founders of the Awaaz-e-Punjab are these days confusing the masses with their statements with one praising Congress and other singing paeans to AAP.
The only thing common among the claims of the four is that they were in touch with the national leadership of the Congress and AAP with also a mention that they had nothing to do with the state leadership of these parties while forging alliance or merger. Further, the statements of Sidhu and Amarinder Singh are also making the things complex with Sidhu accusing Amarinder having pact with Badals and Amarinder one day welcoming Sidhu to defeat Badals and other day questioning the strength of Awaaz-e-Punjab.
No doubt, the drugs menace, high price of sand, corruption and unemployment are among the key concerns for the voters, face lifting of the state with the creation of enormous infrastructure including road network, power projects, memorials, airports and also the launch of various pro-people schemes including Saanjh Kendra and help lines can also not be ignored.
So leaving the unfolding of things to the time, the only thing that a sensible observer will like to predict is that Punjab Assembly elections are set to be a fiery contest between all major political parties, with many new players, in the form of party leaders being added to the scenario. It is also certain that voters of Punjab, being well aware of things, will not like to waste their votes.