BJP retains 4 States; AAP scores landslide in Punjab 

Uttarakhand votes for BJP, but CM Dhami loses; BJP to form govt in Goa with Independents, MGP; Adityanath back with higher vote share, fewer seats; AAP wins 92 of 117 seats in Punjab, packs off Congress; In Manipur, BJP wins 32 seats in 60-member House

March 10, 2022 10:40 pm | Updated March 11, 2022 08:24 am IST - New Delhi

Supporters of Aam Aadmi Party celebrate in Amritsar on March 10, 2022 after the party’s win in the Punjab Assembly elections.

Supporters of Aam Aadmi Party celebrate in Amritsar on March 10, 2022 after the party’s win in the Punjab Assembly elections. | Photo Credit: AFP

The BJP retained power in four of the five States that went to polls, while the Congress lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The AAP said it has emerged as the “natural, national” alternative to the BJP, even as the Congress declined to a new low.

The BJP held on to power in Uttar Pradesh, where it won two-thirds of the seats, compared to three-fourths in 2017. Its vote share increased in U.P., Goa and Manipur. The party conclusively won Uttarakhand, and won enough seats to retain power in Manipur and Goa — three States where its main rival was the Congress.

“This is a seal of approval by the people for the BJP’s pro-poor, proactive governance,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the party headquarters on Thursday evening. “We will learn from this,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi posted on Twitter.

In U.P., the Samajawadi Party doubled its 2017 tally but fell far short of a majority, in the second consecutive Assembly election defeat under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, who did not comment on the results. His call for a coalition of Ambedkarites and Samajwadis — a euphemism for Dalits and Other Backward Classes — had takers as the increase in SP’s vote share shows, but nowhere enough to dislodge the BJP. Bolstered by Hindutva, welfarism, and expansive accommodation of OBCs and Dalits, the BJP stayed ahead of the SP across all regions of the State.

Swami Prasad Maurya, an OBC leader who switched from the BJP to the SP on the eve of the elections lost his own seat; in west U.P., the SP’s alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal dented the BJP but only marginally. “This is a victory of nationalism and good governance,” Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told an ecstatic crowd at the party office in Lucknow, concluding his speech with calls of “Jai Shriram”.

In Punjab, the AAP harnessed the resentment against the Congress and the Akali Dal that have been alternating in power, to build a decisive momentum that won it 92 of the 117 seats in the State. The Congress won 18 and the BJP two, which is as many as what the Congress won in U.P..

“This is a revolution,” AAP founder and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said. “First this revolution happened in Delhi, then in Punjab and it will now happen all over country,” he said.

Party leader Raghav Chadha said Mr. Kejriwal would become the Prime Minister of the country one day. The AAP will have two Chief Ministers after Thursday’s results, which is as many as what the Congress has. The Congress’s last minute efforts to rescue its fortunes in Punjab, which elected one-fifths of its Lok Sabha members, through a leadership a change that brought Charanjit Singh Channi at the helm did not bear fruit. The party’s halfhearted attempt to profit from his Dalit identity appears to have alienated dominant social groups such as Jat Sikhs. Mr. Channi lost both seats that he contested.

The father-son duo that helms the SAD — Sukhbir Singh Badal and Prakash Singh Badal — both former CMs, lost their seats, even as the party finished with just four seats in its second consecutive rout.

Mr. Modi said the voters have punished dynastic parties, referring to the setbacks to the SP, RLD, SAD and the Congress, all controlled by particular families for generations.

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