The Congress victory in Punjab is complete, with the party picking up votes in all the three regions of the state.
While the Congress’ 77 seats are spread out evenly, 18 of the 20 seats picked up by the Aam Aadmi Party came from Malwa. The AAP failed to cross the Sutlej to make its presence felt in the other two regions of Majha and Doaba.
Malwa is electorally the state’s biggest region with 69 assembly segments and the AAP fancied its chances and concentrated most of its resources there.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine got only nine seats in the region that makes or mars political fortunes. The combine got six in Doaba and three in Majha, taking its count to 18, its worst showing ever.
The Congress virtually swept the urban hubs of Amritsar in Majha, Jalandhar in Malwa and Ludhiana in Doaba.
Majha seems to have emerged as the Congress’ favourite hunting ground, with the party bagging 22 of the 25 seats. Amarinder was the member of Parliament from Amritsar before he stepped down in protest against a Supreme Court order.
Though cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was a late entrant, his joining the Congress did make a difference in the region.
In Doaba, the election marked the return of the Scheduled Caste community to the Congress after more than a decade, as the Bahujan Samaj Party collapsed completely.
Support for the Congress can be gauged from the fact that the Badals could only win eight seats in Malwa, including chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s Lambi and deputy CM Sukhbir’s Jalalabad seat. The BJP got one.
The Akali’s last-minute attempt to seek support from Gurmit Ram Rahim-led Dera Sacha Sauda didn’t seem to have worked.
The dera, which claims to wield influence in 40 Malwa constituencies, could do little to improve the ruling combine’s showing.
Despite an aggressive campaign, AAP, too, failed to score big in the region. Its warheads Bhagwant Mann and Jarnail Singh, pitted against Sukhbir and Parkash Singh Badal, respectively, lost.
A blast in Malwa’s Maur five days ahead of the voting day, too, seemed to have had its impact. The blast that left six persons dead made Hindu voters wary who chose the Congress as the AAP was accused of hobnobbing with Sikh radicals.