SAD's social engineering formula won the polls

The countrys oldest regional party had the widest social representation

One of the many reasons that resulted in Parkash Singh Badal’s victory in the recent Punjab elections was the careful application of the social engineering formula his party had propounded, which was not only evident in the polls, but was also obvious in cabinet formation.

Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal  offers sweets to his son and President of SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal in Chandigarh. PTI

The Akali Dal, that traditionally represented Jat-Sikhs and farmers, carefully shed that image by inducting the Dalits and the Hindus amongst its ranks, giving the country’s oldest regional party the widest  possible representation of the state’s social spectrum.

Despite having the Saffron Party as its ally, the SAD issued tickets to as many as 11 Hindus, 10 of whom have emerged victorious.

The Dalit card also worked heavily in its favour. The Akalis bagged 20 out of 34 reserved seats in the state while the BJP won three of them.

The collective strength of 23 for the ruling alliance offers an altogether newer dimension to the Assembly, which is scheduled to meet on March 19.

SAD’s social engineering has resulted in nearly 37 per cent Dalit MLAs representing the ruling alliance in the 117-strong Assembly.

The community also had its pay back as the octogenarian Chief Minister gave three cabinet positions to the Dalits, as against one in the previous council of ministers.
The Congress seem to have got its calculations wrong on the Dalit front, in a state that has 29 per cent of the community –the highest in the country. The party could only bag 10 reserved seats.

On the contrary, the ruling alliance could connect to the ordinary Dalit voters through leaders like the head of the BJP legislative group and the labourer-turned-industrialist Bhagat Chunni Lal, who enters the cabinet this time.

Despite the Dalit-dominated BSP grabbing 4.6 percent votes (without winning a seat), the alliance had overwhelming support from Dalits, evident from its representation.

Dr Pramod Kumar, chairman of the Institute of Development Communication (IDC) in Chandigarh said Punjab has been largely known for its liberal practices in terms of castes.
“The political and ideological texture of the BSP has been unable to fit into Punjab’s regional cultural and economic ethos,” Kumar said.  

“The purity-population and Manuwad do not find expression in Punjab, which the SAD clearly understood.”

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