Punjab 2017

Now, it is anybody’s game in Punjab

A vote for change? Many interpret the heavy turnout in the keenly contested Assembly polls in Punjab on Saturday as one that has the potential to unseat a government.

With more voters exercising their franchise in most of the districts in the Malwa region, which accounts for 69 of the 117 Assembly seats in the State, political analysts believe that the Aam Aadmi Party can be the gainer in this belt. However, with the Doaba and the Majha regions recording a lower turnout, the AAP can fall short of seats to form a government. The Congress holds an edge in the two regions.

Political experts usually associate a high voter turnout as an indication of a vote for change, though the hypothesis has no scientific validation. In the 2012 Assembly elections, Punjab voters defied this theory, with as much as 78.6% of the electorate exercising their franchise to return the alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party to power. In the current election, the State saw a 78.62% turnout — almost the same as in 2012.

“The AAP appeared to be a strong contender in pockets of the Malwa region during the campaign ... A comparatively higher polling in Malwa districts indicates that the AAP could have an edge here as people could have voted for change. Having said that, voters siding with the Congress cannot be ruled out,” Ashutosh Kumar, Professor of Political Science at Panjab University, said.

Notably, the districts falling in the Malwa region recorded nearly 84% polling, while the Doaba area registered a turnout of about 74%. The Majha region registered around 75%. “When there is higher polling, usually it is presumed that it is for ‘change’. In Malwa, polling has been as high as 88%, which hints at a gain for the AAP, but the Congress also seems to have an advantage, especially after the Dera Sacha Sauda of Sirsa announced its support for the SAD-BJP combine,” said Mohammed Khalid, Professor of Political Science at Panjab University.

Three-cornered contest

Given the situation in Punjab, where the contest was mainly between the AAP and Congress, the votes of the Dera followers could have been divided between the AAP and the Akalis. This would have benefited the Congress, he said. Mr. Khalid said that in Doaba and Majha, polling has been relatively lower, giving mixed signals on the voting pattern. “In Doaba, the AAP was seen as having considerable support of the NRIs, but in Majha, the Congress certainly has an upper hand,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 6:32:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-2017/Now-it-is-anybody%E2%80%99s-game-in-Punjab/article17199014.ece

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