New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress are projected to poll 39 percent and 34 percent votes, respectively, in Punjab, which is going to the polls next year, as per the third ABP News-CVoter Battle for the States Tracker.
But despite the lead in vote share, AAP may not win a majority out of 117 seats due to regional distribution of voter-base, as per the Tracker.
Also, Congress is benefiting from its Mayawati moment by installing the first Dalit CM in the state. The move is consolidating its hold over Dalit voters.
This brings us to the conclusion that this is a waveless election in Punjab. For all the political and social turmoil witnessed in the state, the electorate is remarkably split in its expression. If this situation continues to hold for another month, then we may see a hung Vidhan Sabha in Punjab with AAP emerging as the single largest party, closely followed by Congress.
The current projections are based on CVoter daily tracking poll conducted between November 13 and December 9, among 18+ adults, including likely voters.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) is down but not out, it is expected to poll 20 percent votes and may win around 20 seats in the Badal family strongholds. Currently, it seems to be out of reckoning, but the party’s performance will most certainly act as the tie-breaker between AAP and Congress.
The Amarinder Singh-BJP alliance does not seem to be adding up to anything significant. Currently, the vote share and seat share of the grouping is projected to remain in the lower single digits. However, the alliance’s performance may influence the fate of around 30 seats.
Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is preferred by 33 percent voters as CM in 2022 polls. Interestingly, this number corresponds to the headcount of the Dalit population in Punjab. Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu is preferred by only 5 percent voters, Arvind Kejriwal is preferred by 24 percent voters and Sukhbir Singh Badal is the choice of 18 percent voters.
Three X factors that will ultimately decide the Punjab verdict 2022 are the relative sweep of AAP and Congress in their respective strongholds, the performance of Akali Dal and its potential impact on AAP and Congress, and the ability of Amarinder Singh to dent the prospects of Congress.
In terms of Jat Sikh politics, the survey projections are indicative of an emerging vacuum. From 1997-2021, Punjab saw a duopoly of Badal-Amarinder, but currently, no leader is polling enough support to inherit the mantle of Jat leadership. Sukhbir Badal is liked by some sections, while others prefer Bhagwant Mann. Navjot Sidhu’s theatrics have not helped him gain traction in state politics, despite the outsized media imagery projected.
Regardless of AAP’s continued lead, there is a distinct possibility of amplification of the current trend of convergence with Congress’ vote share. If the race tightens any further, the eventual outcome will be decided on a seat-by-seat basis.