Punjab is bucking the Modi wave in the rest of the country with Congress leading on eight out of the 13 seats in the state. In 2014, it had won only three seats. Interestingly, BJP, which is in alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal (B), maintained its hold on its two seats of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. The Akalis and BJP are leading on two seats each, while AAP is leading on one.
Congress is leading in the constituencies of Patiala from where it had fielded Preneet Kaur, wife of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Khadoor Sahib and Faridkot.
Akali Dal, which had bagged four seats in 2014, is ahead on Ferozepur and Bathinda seats, being fought by the husband-wife team of Sukhbir Badal and Harsimrat Badal. AAP state chief Bhagwant Mann is leading in Sangrur, which he had won in 2014.
Interestingly, BJP maintained its hold on its two seats of Gurdaspur, where it fielded Sunny Deol and Hoshiarpur where its candidate, a former IAS officer Dr Som Prakash, is the front-runner.
In the 2014 Congress had won just three seats, while the Akali Dal had bagged four, the BJP two, and the Aam Aadmi Party had opened its account with a handsome four-seat victory.
In 2014, Congress had the highest vote share of 33.2 per cent though it won only three seats. Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had a vote share of 26.4 percent, followed by AAP, which garnered 24.5 percent, and BJP with a mere 8.8 percent.
The reasons behind Congress’good show
The BJP’s nationalistic narrative did not work in Punjab, which suffers the most whenever there is any war or even the possibility of a war with Pakistan. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is considered a strong leader in his own right and not a stooge of the central Congress leadership.
The state that sends a large number of its youths to the armed forces has been paying a heavy price for it. Four of the Pulwama martyrs were from Punjab. A soldier who took part in the surgical strikes in 2016 came home in a body bag last year.
AAP, which had bagged four seats in 2014, suffered a series of splits. AAP split into three with its state chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira forming Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP) and sitting MP from Patiala setting up Naya Punjab Party.
The Punjab Democratic Alliance, a loose conglomerate or gathbandhan formed by Khaira’s Punjabi Ekta Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, that further muddied the poll waters by contesting the LS polls.
Many AAP legislators joined Congress in the runup to the LS polls. Congress also benefited from the division of the Akali Dal. The Akali Dal got divided with its leaders from the Majha region forming Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali).