The ‘Majhails’ — people belonging to the Majha region — true to their ready-to-fight persona, gave a bleeding blow to the ruling SAD-BJP combine by giving 22 seats to the Congress.
The region comprising four districts — Pathankot, Tarn Taran Gurdaspur and Amritsar — has 25 assembly seats.
The only solace for the SAD in Majha came from its big- gun Bikram Singh Majithia, who won by over 22,000 votes. But SAD bounced a surprise with Lakhbir Lodhinangal winning Batala seat, reducing Gurpreet Singn Waraich to the third spot.
The BJP, which had won five seats from the Majha region in 2012 polls, could just win one only this time with deputy speaker Dinesh Babbu from Sujanpur retaining his pocketborough by 18,701 votes.
Majha was significant for the SAD due to 10 years of anti-incumbency, coupled with an uprising of sorts in its citadel of Malwa due to the emotive issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. This ‘panthic’ anger was at the core of pro- Aam Aadmi Party sentiment in Malwa. But the electorate rejected the AAP in Majha and solidly backed the resurgent Congress.
The glimmer of hope for the SAD was from its alliance partner BJP, which too was humbled.
The wipeout is significant as the region was being represented by four ministers in the Parkash Singh Badal government.
Also, in the Panthic belt of Tarn Taran district all the SAD candidates were defeated.In the 2012 polls, the BJP had won five seats in Majha, SAD 11 and Congress 9.
The three seats that saved the SAD-BJP from the wipeout included Majitha and Batala, from where the SAD candidates won, and Sujanpur which the BJP retained. The AAP was routed in the region and its candidates were pushed to the third slot.
The fight in Majha was between the Congress and the SAD-BJP as the latter’s candidates finished second in all the seats they lost.
Analysts point out that Navjot Singh Sidhu also worked in favour of the Congress. Not only he himself won by an impressive margin but also his presence benefited the adjoining seats. Though Majha had been a strong base of the Akalis, Sidhu’s entery into the Congress gave a fillip to anti-Akali anger in the region.