AAP juggernaut clouds Akalis as new Punjab assembly won't have representation of Badals

The Congress government in the state had been accused of being hand in glove with the SAD due to its soft-pedalling on charges against the Badals.

Published: 11th March 2022 03:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th March 2022 09:52 AM   |  A+A-

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  The decades-long rule by traditional parties Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab has come to an end with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweeping the Assembly election on Thursday.

It is for the first time since its reorganisation in 1966 that a third party is coming to power in the border state. Also, the voters’ urge for change seems to have been so strong that they have given such an emphatic victory to the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.

The Congress government in the state had been accused of being hand in glove with the SAD due to its soft-pedalling on charges against the Badals.

Also, the delay on part of the government in taking action over numerous sacrilege cases during the SAD rule led to the perception that both Congress and Akalis are two sides of the same coin. Besides, the issues of drugs and mafia raj, too, played a major role in turning the tide in favour of the AAP.

In a first, no member from the Badal family has made it to the Assembly in this election.

The AAP received a groundswell of support from youth and women as AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal’s promise of rooting out corruption, creating job opportunities and giving women Rs 1,000 per month worked.

Also, the Delhi Model seems to have resonated with voters as AAP has promised quality government education, health, power and water at cheaper rates. 

The announcement of Bhagwant Mann as the CM face helped the AAP get rid of the ‘outsider tag’ that rivals had given it. The verdict confirms that the internal rift in the Congress — which led to the unceremonious exit of Capt Amarinder Singh at the fag end of his tenure and then the subsequent fight between CM Charanjit Singh Channi and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu — didn’t go well with the voters.

“People across caste, class and regions voted for change as the traditional parties failed to meet their aspirations. It is the beginning of a new era as a regional party of other state has taken over reigns of Punjab,” say political analysts Prof Jagrup Singh Sekhon and Dharminder Singh Rataul.

Political analyst Prof Kuldeep Singh says: “It is vote for change and against misgovernance. But the tasks ahead will not be easy since all these issues are quite complex.”

Bhagwant Singh Mann has said his first act as CM will be to provide jobs and his government will come to people’s doorsteps.

“You have fulfilled your responsibility very well, now it is my turn to fulfill the responsibility,” he says.

It will be for the first time in three decades that the Badal family will have no representation in the 117-member Punjab Assembly.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the oldest candidate in the polls at the age of 94, lost to AAP's Gurmeet Singh Khudian from his traditional Lambi seat in Muktsar district.

Parkash Badal was defeated by Khudian by a margin of 11,396 votes.

His son and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, the MP from Ferozepur parliamentary constituency, had entered the fray from the Jalalabad seat in Fazilka district.

However, he also lost to AAP's Jagdeep Kamboj by a margin of 30,930 votes.

Parkash Badal's nephew Manpreet Singh Badal, who is a Congress leader and a state minister, faced a crushing defeat from the Bathinda Urban seat against AAP's Jagroop Singh Gill by a margin of 63,581 votes.

Sukhbir Badal's brother-in-law and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia ended the poll race on the third spot from Amritsar East.

AAP's Jeevanjyot Kaur won the seat, defeating state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Majithia had left his Majitha seat in Amritsar to take on Sidhu, who was the MLA from Amritsar East.

Parkash Badal's son-in-law Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon was defeated by AAP's Laljit Singh Bhullar from Patti by a margin of 10,999 votes.

However, Majithia's wife Ganieve Kaur Majithia, a political greenhorn, won from Majitha.

She defeated her nearest rival, Sukhjinder Raj Singh of the AAP, by a margin of 26,062 votes.

Often credited with his party's victory in the 2012 Assembly polls, Sukhbir, now 59, he became the youngest chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), when he was elevated to the post in 2008.

His political innings started over two decades ago when he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Faridkot twice in a span of two years and served as the Union minister of state for industry in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Later, he was Punjab's deputy chief minister.

This was his first election when he came out of the shadow of his father, who had restricted his public appearances because of his age and the Covid pandemic.

The stakes were high for the Shiromani Akali Dal and Sukhbir Badal was hoping for the revival of his party, which was relegated to the third position in the last Assembly elections, bagging just 15 of the 117 Assembly seats.

This time, the party touched a new low, winning just two seats and leading in one till now.

Sukhbir Badal himself is set to lose the contest from Jalalabad.

But the going was tough from the start.

Months back, the party had snapped its 24-year-old electoral ties with the BJP due to differences over the Centre's farm laws.

Instead, his party forged an alliance with the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party.

He travelled across the state, reminding people of the development work done during his party's 10-year term from 2007 to 2017.

In a multi-cornered contest, the SAD made a head start by announcing candidates early on.

There was also quibbling over who was the party's CM face, with Badal himself being seen as the only contender for it.

He projected the SAD as Punjab's "own party".

Badal, an MP from Ferozepur, converted the contest for the Amritsar East constituency into the mother of all electoral battles in the state by pitting his brother-in-law and senior party leader Bikram Singh Majithia against state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

He had done his schooling from the Lawrence School, Sanawar, and completed MA (Hons) from Panjab University in 1985 and MBA from California State University, USA in 1991.

Sukhbir Badal's wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal was a Union minister and had resigned over the issue of farm laws.

Both have two daughters and a son.

Sukhbir Badal was elected from the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency in 1996 and again in 1998 and 2004.

He became the deputy chief minister in 2009 and was elected as MLA from Jalalabad constituency in a by-election.

He was again elected from Jalalabad in 2012 and 2017.

Sukhbir Badal fought the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and became MP from Ferozepur seat.

(With PTI Inputs)


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