Bucking anti-incumbency and defying most poll predictions, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance romped back to power in Punjab, routing the Congress in the 2012 assembly elections.
Its victory created history on Tuesday as this was the first time in four decades in Punjab that an incumbent was voted back to power. Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal, 84, is all set to become chief minister for a record fifth term.
The SAD-BJP alliance won 68 of the 117 seats in the state. The SAD, which won 49 seats in 2007, improved its tally to 56 seats of the 94 it contested this time.
The BJP got 12 seats this time against 19 in 2007 but did much better than expected.
The victory is being attributed to Parkash Singh Badal’s mass appeal and the organisational rigour and political management skills of his son, SAD president and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
At 46 seats, the Congress has done a tad better than the 44 it bagged the last time but fell way short of the magic figure of 59 needed to form the government.
The Congress’s chief ministerial aspirant Capt Amarinder Singh, who resigned himself to another stint in the opposition, was at a loss for words after the results were out.
“I will leave it to the Congress president. If she wishes, I will step down (as Punjab Congress chief),” he told reporters.