AAP wave rises on support from all castes, communities

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters holding brooms, the party’s election symbol, celebrate as the party heads to a landslide victory in the Punjab Assembly elections, in Amritsar.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters holding brooms, the party’s election symbol, celebrate as the party heads to a landslide victory in the Punjab Assembly elections, in Amritsar. | Photo Credit: PTI

The massive victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab was not a result of any specific caste or community backing it; rather the party garnered votes from all the castes and communities.

The data from the Lokniti–CSDS post–poll survey in Punjab confirm that the victory of AAP represents a bouquet of support from all castes and communities. With both traditional players, the SAD and the Congress, failing to muster much support, AAP and, partially even the BJP benefited among most major caste groups.

The Hindu upper castes, which used to support the Congress, have shifted their vote to the AAP and, to some extent, to the BJP; a little over one-third of the Hindu upper castes voted for the AAP and one-fifth for the BJP. The other section to shift on a large scale was the Hindu OBC voters.

The AAP benefitted handsomely from this shift — with almost four Hindu OBC voters choosing it. The Muslim community, which supported the SAD in 2017 election, has also preferred the AAP now. It was one of the two communities in which the AAP has increased its support base significantly; the other one was OBC Sikhs (the increase was 33% and 32% points, respectively, as compared to the 2017 Assembly election).

The AAP has received the greatest support from the OBC Sikhs as 56% of the voters from this community have voted for it. Other communities that overwhelmingly supported the AAP were Dalit Sikhs, Jat Sikhs and voters from other religious minorities or who did not believe in the caste system.

How Dalits voted?

Dalit as an electoral bloc plays a significant role in Punjab party politics as this community constitutes a third of the State population. No party can imagine their victory without getting support from the Dalit voters.

Despite having a significant population of Dalits, the State never had any Dalit Chief Minister.

However, at the eleventh hour of its term, the Congress tried to break this tradition and appointed Charanjeet Singh Channi, a Dalit, as the Chief Minister. However, the elevation of Mr. Channi did not help the Congress in getting the Dalit votes; in fact, its vote share saw massive decline among both the Hindu and the Sikh Dalit voters.

On the other hand, the SAD had a strategic alliance with the BSP to lure the Dalit voters but this move too did not help the alliance much because it could get merely three percentage point more voters from the Hindu Dalits as compared to 2017; whereas among Dalit Sikhs, the alliance’s vote share has declined by 17 percentage points. Close to one-fifth of the Hindu Dalits voted for the SAD and the BSP alliance where close to a third supported the Congress and the AAP each in 2022.

In any case, given the huge victory that the AAP registered, it is no wonder that the AAP had successfully lined up a strong umbrella support behind it consisting of all castes and communities.

Jagroop Kaur is the Head & Professor at Department of Political Science, Panjabi University, Patiala; Jyoti Mishra is a Research Associate at Lokniti-CSDS

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Printable version | Mar 13, 2022 5:52:48 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-assembly/aap-wave-rises-on-support-from-all-castes-communities/article65217595.ece