Why did Punjab Assembly election results defy post poll surveys?
BJP-SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal) alliance swept the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls but couldn’t make it in the Assembly elections. Similarly, Congress had only 15.38 per cent of the vote share in Chandigarh but won with 38.5 per cent votes in the Assembly election. In Chandigarh the ‘Modi wave’ was evident as the demonetisation drive had just come into force and its approval led BJP to its victory. But in Punjab as a whole, the issues were different.
Vishal Verma of the Daily Post in Chandigarh said, “MC elections were contested on a different level, the promotions and the ideas were different. Chandigarh doesn’t have a drug problem like we hear in Punjab, neither there is any religious bending in the polls.”
“I voted NOTA, because all the parties including Congress or BJP, have done well in the past in Chandigarh. MC polls are about the person here, not the party. So change in voting behavior is usual. But if you talk about Punjab overall, it would be the need of more employment opportunities. Also, people were tired of Akalis in Punjab. Moreover, farmers here haven’t received their dues for long — it is even a bigger problem than drugs,” he said.
Amit Shah told NDTV, “After demonetisation was announced, five states have had municipal polls, and people have approved of the BJP. Every single poll that has taken place after November 8 and where the BJP has won, people have accepted the move.”
However, in Punjab drug abuse had been a major issue under the SAD governance. According to an AIIMS survey, 76 per cent of the drug users in Punjab are between the ages 18 and 35, and 99 per cent of them are males. Amarinder Singh, talking about the Congress manifesto, said, “Drugs are the first thing we will attack and in four weeks we will end this drug menace in Punjab.” This, and the loan waiver to farmers, largely contributed to INC’s win in Punjab.
Congress in 2012 had 40.1 per cent of the vote share, and in 2017 it was 1.6 per cent less but still led to its victory. It was predicted by CVoter that AAP would bag 63 seats out of the 117 and amount for the majority of the vote share but it bagged only 20 seats and 23.7 per cent of the vote share. This huge margin in post poll survey and the actual result could be attributed to AAP’s identity as an outsider. However, it still managed to become the leading opposition party, thwarting the SAD which has lead since 1920.