CHANDIGARH: Both main rivals Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party suffered from voter disconnect in Punjab polls.
After remaining in power for two consecutive terms, the Shiromani Akali Dal suffered a humiliating defeat that its tally fell to just 14 seats. This performance is the worst ever since 1972 when SAD had bagged just 24 seats.
The verdict also derails the plan of SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal, who had been very careful in cultivating an image of his son Sukhbir Singh Badal to take over after him, as he had already made him the party president and Deputy CM.
The outcome underlines the humiliation of India’s second oldest party. It is largely attributed to the fact that the Badals and party leaders were completely disconnected from the people, including workers of their own party thus leaving the party cadre sulking.
Besides the corrupt coterie they were surrounded by it was a party that catered to the Panth community (those who believe in Sikh values and traditions) thus denting its core vote bank. It was this anger of the Panths over the non-resolution of the emotive sacrilege issue that snowballed into a statewide anti-Akali surge.
The cadre did not stand up to defend the party on the sacrilege issue that dominated the political discourse as they were not being heard at the top. The faithful Akali vote bank appears to have walked into the AAP fold.
As the Dera Sacha Sauda openly announced support to the Akali Dal the traditional Sikh vote which the party used to get went to AAP and Congress.
While for the Aam Aadmi Party the remote-controlled Punjab campaign from Delhi led to its debacle.
The outsider tag would not wash away, as the party in September last year threw the then Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhottepur as he had complained against the party’s high command against Central leaders like Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak of the State unit.
The other reason is that they could not manage to get Navjot Singh Sidhu, the prominent Sikh face on board, as the party had no prominent face and never declared who would be their chief ministerial candidate.
The other reason is that their local leaders were not respected. Out of the four MPs of the party it had suspended Member of Parliament from Pataila Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa from Fatehgarh Sahib for anti-party activities.
Besides, the party focused more on Malwa, which had 69 out of 117 seats and less of Magha and Doaba regions in the State. Last but not the least as the elections drew closer infighting within the party surfaced which finally cost it dearly.