CHENNAI: The Congress is poised to win a slight majority or just fall short of it in the Punjab Assembly election, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a close second and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance a distant third, as per a poll survey done by People’s Pulse, a fieldwork-based political research organization.
The survey forecasts 53-58 seats for the Congress, 42-46 for AAP and a dismal 10-15 for the SAD-BJP in the 117-member Assembly. Seen against the drift of the exit polls in UP, the returns from Punjab would be a silver lining for the Congress.
But the real story of the Punjab election would be the impressive showing of AAP, following up on its four Lok Sabha victories in 2014. The other story forecast by the poll is the widely predicted rout of the SAD-BJP combine after 10 years in power.
The survey, conducted during Jan. 27-30, drew responses on voting preferences from 10,500 voters across 350 polling stations in Punjab. The findings have a 3 per cent (plus or minus) margin of error.
The survey indicates that the Congress vote share would rise to 35.7 per cent while that of the AAP would soar to 29.4 per cent, leaving the ruling alliance with 24.3 per cent.
The survey returns, if they come true when the actual vote count is taken on Saturday, would mimic the results of the Delhi Assembly elections in 2013, when the AAP won 28 seats in the 70-member Assembly to be the second largest party behind the BJP. While it did form a minority government with the “not unconditional” support of the Congress, its first government led by Arvind Kejriwal proved to be unstable.
If the final results in Punjab leave the Congress short of a majority and needing the support of AAP, chances are that the ensuing regime will be vulnerable to similar tugs and pulls. The People’s Pulse survey indicates that the SAD-BJP’s slippage puts it in third place in both Malwa and Majha regions and in second place in the Doab, the stronghold of Jat Sikhs.
Capt Amarinder Singh emerges from the People’s Pulse survey as a clear favourite for chief minister, with 38 per cent of the respondents backing him and the incumbent and ageing CM Parkash Singh Badal pulling in only 23.3 per cent support. Amarinder Singh has already been declared as the Congress’s nominee for chief minister.
Arvind Kejriwal would be interested to know that a resounding 88 per cent of the respondents said they would not support a non-Punjabi chief minister.
Voter distaste for the ruling regime was clearly evident in the survey findings, with 47 per cent of the respondents rating the performance of Badal as ‘bad’ and an even greater proportion, 52 per cent rating his government similarly.
In contrast, voters rated think Modi’s performance as Prime Minister rather better, with 39.4 per cent rating it as ‘good’, 22.1 per cent calling it ‘bad’ and 30.6 per cent rating it as ‘average’. These findings indicate that disaffection for the Akali Dal weighed down the alliance heavily in rural parts of the state.