Former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, after routing BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley in Amritsar, has refused to acknowledge that the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, which bagged six of the state’s 13 seats, performed better than the Congress, which got three.
How do you look at the poll result in Punjab?
It is by no means a victory for the SAD-BJP, though they bagged six of 13 seats, one more than the 2009 polls. We could not repeat our 2009 showing (of eight seats) because of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) factor, whose performance was far above expectations. We received 34% votes, almost the same as the SAD-BJP. On the other hand, the AAP got around 24%. So the Akalis or the BJP cannot claim to be a popular government or claim victory.
What was the main factor that worked against the Cong?
It was the AAP factor. Had the factor not been there, we would have probably won all 13 seats in a head-to-head clash with SAD-BJP. It was a situation similar to that of the 2012 assembly polls, when the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) cut into our votes. People were unhappy with the performance of the state government and they chose to vote either for the Congress or the AAP, and rejected the SAD-BJP. However, the division of anti-government votes benefitted the ruling alliance.
How will the results impact the future of the Congress?
We will have to reorganise for the next assembly polls. I think the AAP factor will fade away just as it did in Delhi, or even as the PPP did in Punjab.