SAD creates history in Punjab | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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SAD creates history in Punjab

Bucking anti-incumbency and defying most poll predictions, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance is all set to retain power in Punjab, defeating the Congress in the 2012 assembly polls.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 06, 2012 20:29 IST
Navneet Sharma

Bucking anti-incumbency and defying most poll predictions, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance is all set to retain power in Punjab, defeating the Congress in the 2012 assembly polls.

By its victory in the closely-contested elections, the combine created history on Tuesday as this is the first time that an incumbent has been voted to power in Punjab in the last four decades.

While Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal, 84, is all set to become chief minister for a record fifth term, the poll outcome is a setback for Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, 69, who was hoping to return to power.

The Akali-BJP combine seemed headed for a win, leading in around 60 of the 117 seats in the state according to the counting trends till filing of the report. The SAD, which won 48 seats in 2007, hovered around the same mark.

The BJP was nowhere close to its performance in the 2007 assembly elections, but did better than expected. Its finally tally, however, may stay in single digits. The SAD ally had won 19 of 23 seats it contested in 2007.

The Congress, though doing better than the 44 seats it bagged in 2007, may fall well short of the magic number of ‘59’ needed to form the government.

While the so-called ‘third force’, the Manpreet Singh Badal-led People’s Party of Punjab, has come a cropper in terms of seats, it appears to have hurt the Congress by cutting into its votes in the urban middle class.

While there was no undercurrent of anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP combine, it bet on its trump card — performance — and a high-visibility campaign, pulling out all stops to highlight its development initiatives, freebies and welfare schemes. Also, there was an emotional pitch that this was the senior Badal’s last electoral outing.

The Congress, which showed complacency with its leaders fighting for tickets, has also been hit by rebels and charges of corruption in big-ticket projects against the Congress-led government at the Centre, amplified by the Anna Hazare movement.