The Hindu-CSDS-Lokniti Punjab post-poll survey 2022

An angry Punjab voted decisively for change

A hoarding of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with AAPs Punjab Chief Ministerial candidate Bhagwant Singh Mann, put up by Aam Aadmi Party workers in New Delhi on March 12, 2022.

A hoarding of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with AAPs Punjab Chief Ministerial candidate Bhagwant Singh Mann, put up by Aam Aadmi Party workers in New Delhi on March 12, 2022. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Even as the Punjab election verdict constitutes a clear rejection of the Congress State government by voters, it wasn’t just the Congress that the voters were angry with. They were almost equally angry with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. The Lokniti-CSDS post poll survey in the State found dissatisfaction with the performance of the Narendra Modi government during the past three years to be nearly as high as the dissatisfaction with the Congress government’s five-year tenure.

While six of every 10 voters said that they were fully dissatisfied with the State government, complete dissatisfaction with the Modi government was only marginally lower at a little over half the electorate.

Merely one in every 10 voters expressed their complete satisfaction with the two governments, indicating the sheer scale of anger among voters. Such a big difference between the proportion of those fully dissatisfied and the percentage of those fully satisfied has not been seen in our other State election surveys in the recent or even the distant past, either for any State government (not even unpopular ones) or the Central government. It is also interesting that the anger against the Modi government in Punjab was so strong despite the Centre having repealed the controversial farm laws.

Though most voters ended up voting solely on the performance of the State government (58%) and not that of the Modi government’s (8%), the alliance of the BJP and Captain (retd.) Amarinder Singh was simply unable to capitalise on the dissatisfaction with the Congress government because of its own unpopularity.

Not only were voters dissatisfied with the Central government, but as mentioned in the piece by Manjesh Rana on the Channi factor, the dissatisfaction among voters with the Congress government’s five years was more on account of Capt. Amarinder Singh’s four-and-a-half-year tenure and less due to Charanjit Channi’s six-month tenure. The BJP alliance, therefore, suffered on both counts — an unpopular Capt. Amarinder Singh and on top of that, an unpopular Central government. In fact, that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) did not jointly contest with the BJP seems to have worked in favour of the Akalis a bit. They may not have won many of the seats they did if they had been in an alliance with the BJP.

Discontent with MLAs

Not only were voters angry with the State and Central governments, they were also found to be quite dissatisfied with their MLAs, particularly the Congress MLAs. While only one-fifth of voters in seats that had a Congress MLA expressed complete satisfaction with their performance, over a third were fully dissatisfied. Nonetheless, this dissatisfaction with the Congress MLAs was much lower than the dissatisfaction with the Congress government and it could be argued that whatever seats the Congress won may have been more on account of the relative popularity of some of its MLAs. In fact, the survey found that around one-third of voters in Punjab voted on the basis of candidates and not parties, and among this segment the Congress did relatively better, trailing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by only nine points. On the other hand, among the close to six of very 10 voters who voted on party lines, the Congress trailed the AAP by 24 points.

Finally, not only were voters angry with the governments and to some extent their local leaders, there also seems to have been wide disenchantment with the two main traditional parties of Punjab — the Congress and the Akalis — who have governed the State, in turns, for the last two-and-a-half decades. An analysis of how previous supporters of the Congress and the SAD voted this time indicates that both the parties lost about a third of their past voters to the AAP.

Punjab was clearly angry with the establishment and decisively voted for change.

Sandeep Shastri is the Vice Chancellor, Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal and the National Co-ordinator of the Lokniti network; Shreyas Sardesai is with Lokniti-CSDS


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 11:25:16 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-assembly/an-angry-punjab-voted-decisively-for-change/article65217589.ece