THE Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine today became the first incumbent government in Punjab to get a consecutive second shot at government since the state was reorganised in 1966. What was being viewed as a close fight between the Akalis and Congress on counting day eventually became heavily loaded in favour of the SAD-BJP combine as the day progressed.
The ruling combine ended up winning 68 seats while the Congress managed 46,two more than last time. The remaining three seats were bagged by Independents.
Significantly,while the BJPs tally came down from 19 seats in 2007 to just 12 this time,the Akalis romped home by increasing their tally from 48 seats last time to 56 seats now.
Former Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badals newly floated Peoples Party of Punjab failed to open its account. In what could have major ramifications for his political career,Manpreet lost from both the Gidderbaha and Maur constituencies. He,in fact,finished third in both the places.
While Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal retained his Lambi seat by defeating cousin and Congress candidate Maheshinder Singh Badal by 24,682 votes,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal clinched Jalalabad seat by a whopping 50,246 votes the biggest margin in these polls. SADs Avinash Chanders winning margin of 26 votes from Phillaur was the lowest.
Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh retained his Patiala seat by defeating SADs Surjit Singh Kohli by 42,318 votes. His son Raninder Singh,however,lost from Samana by a margin of 6,930 votes.
Six Cabinet ministers of the ruling combine Dr Upinderjit Kaur,Sewa Singh Sekhwan,Sucha Singh Langah,Ranjit Singh Brahmpura,Tikshan Sood,Arunesh Kumar Shakir and Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon lost the elections.
Despite the BJPs tally going down by six seats,a good show by the Akalis in the all-important Malwa region proved decisive. In stark comparison to 2007,when the Akalis had managed just 19 of the 68 seats in Malwa,this time they won 34,a net gain of 15 seats. The Congress tally in Malwa dwindled from 37 last time to 31 this time while the BJP got decimated there with a single seat.
In Doaba and Majha regions,the SAD won a total 22 seats while the Congress could manage only 15. Eleven of the 12 seats the BJP won in the state are from these two regions.
In terms of vote share,the Congress emerged as the largest party,getting 40.11 per cent of the total votes cast. While the Akalis got 34.75 per cent of the votes,the BJP managed 7.13 per cent. Put together,the combines vote share,at 41.88 percent,was marginally higher than the Congresss.
The next biggest chunk of votes went to the Independents,who polled 6.76 per cent votes. The PPP and BSP polled 5.17 and 4.30 per cent votes,respectively.
It turned out be a sour political outing for babus-turned-politicians,with both former DGP P S Gill and former principal secretary to the chief minister,Darbara Singh Guru,both SAD candidates,losing from their seats. The Muslim-dominated Malerkotla where the wives of two IPS officers were pitted against each other saw sitting Congress MLA Razia Sultana being defeated by the SADs Farzana Alam.
Former Indian hockey captain and SAD candidate Pargat Singh won from Jalandhar Cantonment seat with a margin of 6,798 votes. Rahul Gandhis handpicked candidate Amarinder Singh Raja Warring probably created one the greatest upsets by trouncing four-time Gidderbaha MLA and PPP Chief Manpreet Badal from that constituency.
Manpreet,in fact,finished third,behind the SAD candidate. The main credit for the victory goes to the people of Punjab. But I really appreciate the efforts of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal. He has worked really hard. He has organised the party very well and played a good role. I am really satisfied with him, a beaming Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said.
He also slammed the Congress for failing to have provided security to the country and to tackle issues like inflation and unemployment. Asked about Manpreet,the CM said: He has committed a Himalayan blunder and political suicide. I have an experience of 50 years which says that people do not come along so early.
This is my fight and my loss. I take full responsibility for this battle, Captain Amarinder Singh said.