The Aam Aadmi Party, cutting across categories

The massive victory reflects support across all age groups and sections of the electorate in Punjab

March 13, 2022 01:26 am | Updated 04:22 am IST

AAP workers wave the national flag as they celebrate party’s victory in the recent Punjab Assembly elections, in Prayagraj, on March 12, 2022.

AAP workers wave the national flag as they celebrate party’s victory in the recent Punjab Assembly elections, in Prayagraj, on March 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Among the five States that went to polls, if the outcome in Uttar Pradesh will prove critical in terms of bolstering the BJP’s ambition of a third term at the Centre, the outcome of Punjab will be of equal importance in terms of throwing up a possible challenger to the BJP in the Lok Sabha election. While the mere fact that the AAP won a majority was in itself not a great surprise, the nature of its victory represents the churning in the State and a deep desire to cling to an alternative. This is also borne out by the piece on Angry Punjab that led most social sections to vote in favour of the AAP.

When a party posts such a massive victory, the question as to what its social base is becomes somewhat redundant. For one thing, the winning party receives votes from all sections. Secondly, it cuts into the votes of all other contestants (see Table comparing movement of social sections from 2017 to 2022) and thirdly, its social base appears flat in the sense that from diverse social sections, the winning party receives support in a more or less uniform proportion.

Does the social profile of AAP conform to these hypotheses?

As Lokniti-CSDS post-poll data shows, men and women voted for the AAP in equal proportion; literates and non-literates as also well-educated voters supported the AAP in equal proportion; voters of different economic class backgrounds supported the party almost in equal measure; and there was hardly much difference in the support the party received from rural and urban voters.

There was some variation in the support that AAP enjoyed across different caste and community groups: the party received a little less support among the Hindu upper and Scheduled Castes while it garnered huge support among the Sikh OBCs. In terms of religion, the AAP polled a little less among Hindus than among the Sikh voters. Similarly, there was some variation in the support accorded to AAP by voters of different age groups: less than 40% of voters in the over-46 age-group voted for AAP in sharp contrast to more than 40% voters in the under-46 cohort who voted the party in. As one would imagine, AAP polled more than half the votes among the 18-25 age-group.

But both these variations pale into insignificance because even the lowest support AAP received — either in the case of caste-groups (among Hindu upper and Scheduled Castes) or in the case of elder voters — was in the range of a robust 35 to 37%.

While the victory of the AAP was huge in terms of seats, data show that in polling over 42% of the overall vote, the party has struck a robust and all-round social support across various fault lines. At least at the moment of its glory, the party is practically a party chosen by all sections of the Punjab voters. For a State known for its deep social fault lines, this indeed is a very new development.

Now the challenge for AAP would be to reflect that rainbow social alliance in its governance and to retain this cross-section support over time.

Sanjay Kumar is Co-Director of the Lokniti programme at CSDS; Suhas Palshikar taught Political Science, he is currently the Co-Director of the Lokniti programme and chief editor of Studies in Indian Politics. Chanda Rani is a Researcher at Lokniti-CSDS

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