'Balle Balle' for Congress in Punjab

'Balle Balle' for Congress in Punjab

 The Congress romped home with a comfortable majority in Punjab winning 77 assembly seats of total 117,  ending a decade of rule by the Akali Dal-BJP combine.

Punjab election results rendered a setback to Arvind Kejriwal’s national ambitions with the Congress knocking off the AAP, limiting it to way below its expectations with 20 seats. The outgoing SAD-BJP combine finished a dismal third with 18 winners, 15 of the Akali Dal. AAP’s ally Lok Insaf Party won from two seats.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who turned 75 on Saturday, will be the next chief minister of Punjab and is likely to be sworn in next week.

Congress gained 31 seats since last elections. The Akali Dal is not only down 41 seats, the grand old party lost close to 10% of vote share essentially to the AAP.

The results mark the credible entry of a third front - the AAP - which managed to make inroads in Punjab’s Malwa region, although way below its projections. This is Congress’ best performance in last two decades. The BJP, an ally of the SAD, managed just three seats of the 23 it contested.

Capt Amarinder Singh would perhaps regret having lost to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Lambi by a sizable margin in what he called his last election. But his victory on home turf Patiala Urban with the highest ever margin was rewarding. Capt’s opponent of Akali Dal, ex-Army chief Gen J J Singh, lost his security deposit.

The Congress’ gamble on former BJP MP Navjot Sidhu helped the party greatly in Majha, a region where the Congress had less impact. In Amritsar Lok Sabha segment alone, out of 11 seats, the Congress won 10, courtesy Sidhu.

While 10 ministers in Badal’s cabinet lost elections, Badal and family won their seats. CM Badal reclaimed Lambi, his son Sukhbir Badal won from Jalalabad. Sukhbir’s brother-in-law Bikramjit Singh Majithia, who is blemished with drug taint, won from Majitha.

The Congress scored 38.5% votes, down about 1.5% since last elections. The BJP vote share at 5.3% was down nearly 2%. The AAP maiden vote share stood at 23.7%, a little less than the SAD.

The Congress performed very well in all three regions - Malwa, Majha and Doaba. While the AAP hoped to sweep Malwa, which accounts for 69 seats, the party could manage 18 seats. The AAP drew a complete blank on 25 seats in Majha and managed two seats in Doaba region. In Majha, the Congress won 22 seats.  Doaba gave the Congress 15 out of 23 seats.

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