The Congress has been out of power in Punjab for a decade. But on 11 March, the party registered its biggest win in the state in 25 years, paving the path for veteran Captain Amarinder Singh to return as the Chief Minister.
The Congress’ 77 seat victory is the biggest win by any party in Punjab since 1992. In fact, this is the Congress’ second-best election performance since 1992, when it won 87 seats.
The Congress’ worst performance during this period was the 1997 elections, which saw the SAD forming the government after winning a whopping 75 seats.
How The 2017 Punjab Assembly Polls Was Different
This election saw the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) attempting to make inroads into Punjab. While the party claimed it would win up to 100 seats, it managed to win 18, with its ally, the Lok Insaf Party, bagging two seats.
The AAP tried to corner the Akalis over Dalit-related issues and unemployment in the state, while the Congress used the problem of law and order in the state to take on the SAD-BJP combine.
Before the AAP came into the picture, the contest in Punjab was expected to be between the SAD/BJP and INC.
However, the incumbent Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance succumbed to the increasing drug menace during its rule. Ten ministers, including all four from the BJP, were defeated.
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The Road Ahead for Punjab
After the win, Capt Amarinder Singh, who rang in his 75th birthday with the news of the results, said that his government’s first priority would be to eradicate drugs from the state.
Singh, who was Chief Minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007, was non-committal on having cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as Deputy Chief Minister in the next government. “That will be decided by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. All ministers will be decided by the party leadership,” he said.
(With inputs from IANS)