It's advantage AAP in Punjab's Malwa region

It's advantage AAP in Punjab's Malwa region
A change appears palpable as you travel across Punjab’s heartland. Election campaign enters its final stage and opinion polls are predicting a win for the Congress. But the Aam Aadmi Party appears to be gaining ground, especially in the Malwa region, which accounts for 69 of the 117 seats in the state.

The Congress’s resurgence appears indomitable. Having said that, the AAP is turning out to be a formidable challenger on many seats and could land up with sizeable gains. This could possibly throw up a surprise and erode some of the advantage the Congress was looking for.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal’s prophesy of “25-years of power in Punjab” is unlikely to turn true after a decade in power. In a direct triangular contest where two parties, including the AAP which was dubbed a ‘rookie’, is threatening stakes of mainstream political rivals, experts are cautious on the outcome of the poll and unwilling to bet on the AAP’s grand victory. But Malwa holds the key.

“The outcome could be complex as the AAP’s extent of gain or loss will determine the success or defeat of the Congress or the Akali Dal,” G S Cheema, president of the Bar Council, Sangrur, told DH. Political analyst Sanjiv Pandey says, “With no baggage of the past, elections in Punjab will be a major boost for the AAP. The party is in for sizeable gains in vote share and even seats”.

He explains the altering political narrative, saying the silent voter is finding a voice through the AAP, while the rural voter is guarded, which is not good news for the mainstream parties.
The economically weaker sections and the Dalits want a change, Pandey said.  He held that in the 2012 general elections, the decline in the vote share on SAD seats was essentially gained by the AAP candidates and not the Congress, which explains that the decline in Akali votes will benefit the AAP candidates more in many places. Sukhbir “admits” the AAP is in the reckoning on 20-22 seats in Malwa region. The party got its four MPs and maximum votes from Malwa region in the 2014 general polls.

There is disenchantment against the ruling party which is perhaps why the SAD is now playing the Modi card to the hilt. The SAD is telling people that “a vote for SAD is a vote for Modi and any other government (read AAP) coming to power will create a conflict situation with the Centre”. But Vishal Garg, son of sitting MLA and SAD candidate Parkash Chand Garg, told DH that the AAP in Malwa is only projecting visibility and has no connect at the grass-root level.
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