Congress starts well, finishes well

Congress starts well, finishes well

The Congress winning strategy in elections this time around was straight, if not that simple. It only made sure it did not repeat mistakes it made in the last Assembly polls when it lost despite getting the maximum percentage of votes as a single party. This was Capt Amarinder Singh’s last election and he was seen in a new avatar, courtesy his poll strategist Prashant Kishore, who dressed down his Maharaja image and more.

The Congress had the clear advantage of 10 years of anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP combine, just that the party needed to rightly capitalise.

The party simply went to town explicitly narrating the misrule and notoriety of the incumbents. But Capt clearly walks away with much of the credit. The Congress campaign revolved round the issue of drugs and farmers for which the Aam Aadmi Party claimed original ownership.

Unlike the last Assembly elections, dissent and rebellion after ticket distribution was insignificant in this poll. In fact, Capt declared sops by way of giving plum posts, both in government and organisation cadre, to potential rebels to withdraw and contribute to the win of the official party nominees.

With Rahul Gandhi arguably underplayed in Punjab, Capt was the face of the Congress all through. With a series of systematic interventions, like the ‘Coffee with Capt’ programme, the Congress made a distinct connect with the youth voters who constitute sizable numbers in the state.

Tactical advantage
The Congress always knew regions of Majha and Doaba would be crucial for its margins. It gained tactical advantage by roping in former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Navjot Singh Sidhu into the party fold just ahead of elections. Sidhu helped the Congress make sizable gains in Majha.

Its poll manifesto was spot on. The Congress pledge to bring the VVIP culture in Punjab to a near finish clicked well. Curbing drugs menace in four weeks, a job for every household, unemployment allowance of Rs 2,500 for jobless youth to waiver of farm loans helped the party prospects.

Punjab was looking for a strong leader who could free the state of its ills. They saw the answer in Capt Amarinder Singh. His aggressive posturing on the SYL issue in the face of flip flop by the AAP helped the Congress connect with farmers.

Its cadre was united in fighting the Akalis whom they accuse of unleashing political vendetta through plentiful of false cases.

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