Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Captain Amarinder Singh Should Send a Thank You Note to Akalis for His Spectacular Win Over AAP in Punjab

In Punjab, Congress got more than two-third seats. It's good news for Captain Amarinder Singh who prior to the elections had already declared that these would be his last elections.

One of my friends immediately called me over the phone and said that Congress should get some solace in the fact that it won over BJP in clear terms in at least one state. My answer was, since when was the BJP a player in Punjab? After all, the party is just a minor entity in Punjab politics. I would also not agree that Congress defeated Akalis because after 10 years of anti-incumbency SAD was ready to lose this election.

So, whom did the Congress really defeat? Definitely, it defeated the debutante Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for which Congress should thank the SAD-BJP coalition. But how and why? Let's do an analysis to know what happened in 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, a state where electoral mathematics is very complex and a bit strange as vote share is not necessarily directly proportional to the seats won.
In my of my articles published in various platforms I have clearly mentioned how strange the electoral mathematics of Punjab is. In 2014, Congress got around 33.1 per cent vote share where as it got least number of MP seats (3). AAP got 30.4 per cent vote share and got 4 MP seats. SAD-BJP got 29 per cent votes yet got highest number of MP seats (6).

Thus, to beat this complicated mathematics, Congress had to get at least five per cent more votes and AAP should have fell behind SAD-BJP's vote share. The exit polls showed otherwise. They put the vote shares of AAP and Congress almost equal while putting SAD-BJP's vote share at less than 10 per cent allowing it to have just 4-7 seats. Had the exit polls been right then it would have led to the formation of a government in the state under AAP.

But in reality, Congress did get a vote share of 38.4 per cent which is exactly 5 per cent more than what they got in 2014. Also SAD-BJP got 30.7 per cent votes, an increase of 1.7 per cent votes from 2014 vote share, thus making AAP get 23.7 per cent votes which is 6.7 per cent less than their 2014 vote share. (source:

That means that these 2017 Punjab Assembly elections were a direct contest between Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party. Had the SAD-BJP combine put up a poorer performance then AAP could have formed the next government there. Isn't the present electoral mathematics of the state too strange if you go by the seats won vis-a-vis the vote share? But that's what Punjab's politics is all about.

What are the takeaways for different political parties post the results?
For Congress it should be a learning lesson that in future elections it should trust more of regional leaders than depending on Central leaders. Rahul Gandhi shouldn't feature in any election campaign. They need to allow growth of local leaders. Congress could never have won Punjab had Captain Amarinder Singh not been made in-charge. Rahul Gandhi many a times wanted to remove Amarinder Singh, but it was Sonia Gandhi who didn't accept Rahul Gandhi's proposal.

For BJP, I think there is nothing in this election. Some would be thinking that BJP should have contested independently abandoning the coalition with SAD. But I think the top leadership made a good decision of not ditching SAD because it shouldn't dump long time allies in states where it doesn't have that much organisational structure.

For Akalis also it wasn't that bad an election as they got around 25.3 per cent votes (BJP – 5.3 per cent). They should now wait for 2022 to get back to power.

But there's a learning lesson for AAP. You just can't ditch Delhi and camp at Punjab. The Congress will haunt back AAP in the upcoming MCD elections in Delhi scheduled on April 22 this year. A defeat in MCD could lead to end of story for Arvind Kejriwal. His ambitions are good and high, but that doesn't mean you should ignore your roots. AAP's roots lie in Delhi and its neglect of the capital city could spell doom for the party.

Finally, I would say that there is a drastic change in power politics post these five state Assembly elections which will be visible very brightly. But in the meantime Captain Amarinder Singh need to send a big ‘Thank you’ card to Akali dal.

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