Other States

It’s advantage Congress in Punjab, say election experts

CM Amarinder Singh

CM Amarinder Singh  

As Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party are riddled with internal crisis

As political parties gear up for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll in Punjab, the ruling Congress, despite the fact that it is yet to fulfil many of its poll promises made during the 2017 Assembly election, seems to enjoy an advantage as both the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party are riddled with internal crisis, political experts have told The Hindu.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, Punjab saw an unexpected response of the electorates to the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which secured 24.5% of the vote share and won four out of 13 constituencies. SAD won four seats with 26.4% vote share and its ally the BJP won two seats with 8.6% vote. The Congress with 33% vote share won three seats. However, in 2017 Gurdaspur bypoll, necessitated by the death BJP MP Vinod Khanna, the Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar won the seat.

“This time things are different though, AAP is on weaker ground as the founding leaders have left the party over the years. Stricken by factionalism, the party has seen a virtual split. AAP has been trying to get an alliance with the newly formed Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali) and with the Congress as well but without any success. To compound its problem, the party has also lost the crucial NRI support,” says Ashutosh Kumar, Professor of Political Science at the Panjab University.

Mr. Ashutosh points out that ground situation is not rosy for the Shiromani Akali Dal as well as party’s senior (Taksali) leaders have come out in the open against the present leadership, posing a challenge to its president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sukhbir’s acceptance among the senior (Taksali) party leaders as their chief has been time and again questioned.

SAD blues

“The allegations against the party leadership’s complicity in getting the Akal Takht to pardon Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda besides charges of failure to check the sacrilege cases during their (SAD-BJP) regime continue to hurt the party support. Besides, handling of Kotkapura-Behbal Kalan police firing incidents of 2015, which followed the Bargari sacrilege did not go down well with the party ranks and the Sikh Panth. The Congress government has sought to take political mileage out of it by constituting a special investigation team to investigate the charges,” says Mr. Ashutosh.

“The loss of the SAD and AAP is advantageous for the Congress despite the fact that the Amarinder government in the State has failed to fulfil many of its poll promises made during 2017 Assembly election,” he adds.

Ronki Ram, Dean at faculty of Social Science at the Panjab University, says people in 2014 looked at AAP as a viable alternative to traditional parties like SAD-BJP and Congress but it doesn't seem to be the case now. “This time there iss no enthusiasm towards AAP on the ground. Also people still look annoyed with the SAD-BJP for the alleged misdeeds during their regime. Even the recent cross-border air strike is unlikely to help SAD-BJP. In this backdrop the ruling Congress in State seems to be the gainer,” says Mr. Ram.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 1:24:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/its-advantage-congress-in-punjab-say-election-experts/article26636946.ece

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