ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Punjab’s Voters Settle for Change of the Familiar Kind

Winning in Punjab provides the Congress, which is desperately looking for a national revival, the best opportunity. However, the Badals have left Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with empty coffers. He has a strong enough mandate and nothing to lose if he decides to strike out for bold policy reforms that will put Punjab back on the right path. But he needs to make a clean break from the coteries that came to define his first government. As for Aam Aadmi Party, it is now the main opposition in the assembly but it must ponder over why it failed to do as well as it and its opponents, expected.

The 2017 assembly election in Punjab was unprecedented in many ways. For the first time, there was a third party in the fray, offering voters the possibility of a change in politics and government that was dominated for decades by just two parties. Before this, Punjab voters alternated between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress, giving each a five-year break. The 2007 election, in which SAD won a second term, was an exception. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) entry was expected to disrupt this revolving door arrangement. Punjab’s voters did settle for change, but of the old familiar kind, and rejected the new and edgy uncertainty that has come to be associated with AAP.

The Congress party won with 77 out of 117 seats, just one short of a two-thirds victory. This is the most emphatic victory for any single party in Punjab since SAD’s victory with 75 seats in 1997. In that election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 18 seats, while the Congress won just 14. Exactly two decades later, the SAD–BJP combination which ruled the state together over two terms beginning from 2007, won just 18 seats. The BJP itself was reduced to a mere three seats, down from its tally of 12 in 2012 while SAD won 15, compared to its previous tally of 56.

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Updated On : 24th Mar, 2017
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