Chandigarh:The stupendous victory of the Congress in the just-concluded assembly polls in Punjab may be credited to a variety of factors, but unintended help also came from the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and new political entrant AAP.
More than anti-incumbency of 10-year rule of Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, it was the virtual hatred towards Badal family on issues of corruption, drugs, mis-governance and mafia rule, and the law-defying writ of the ‘Halqa’ (area)-in-charges that the Akalis promoted, which led to the decimation of the alliance.
In retrospect, the AAP made several mistakes, starting with the insistence of its central leadership to remote-control the Punjab campaign with leaders from other states and the lack of faith it showed in the local leadership.
That apart, not being able to project a chief ministerial face, the breakdown of talks with cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, questions over choice of candidates and infighting built up, over the past few months, into a situation in which the party found itself trapped.
While the Congress won an impressive 77 seats in the 117-member assembly, it was the Malwa belt which helped it romp home to power in style. The Congress won 40 out of the 69 seats in Malwa. The AAP was considered the strongest in the Malwa belt, since it had won four Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 parliamentary elections and had led in 34 assembly seats in the region at that time, but it could manage to win only 18 seats in the assembly polls.
Two more seats in the belt were won by AAP ally, the Lok Insaaf Party. The Akali Dal, for which the Malwa belt was a traditional stronghold, managed to get only eight seats. Its ally BJP got only one seat in the belt. But that did not undermine the Congress performance in the other two regions of Punjab Majha and Doaba.The Congress virtually swept the entire Majha belt, comprising the Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Pathankot districts, winning 22 of the 25 seats there.
In Amritsar, where former Deputy Chief Minister and Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal focused in the past four years by carrying out massive renovation of the area near the Golden Temple, virtually transforming the complex, and bringing in development projects like flyovers, the Akali Dal and its ally drew a blank. All five seats in Amritsar city went to the Congress with impressive margins.While the lowest winning margin was over 14,000 votes, the highest was over 42,000 votes.
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook