Gamble on bigwigs pays off for Congress - Hindustan Times
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Gamble on bigwigs pays off for Congress

By, Chandigarh
Jun 06, 2024 05:14 AM IST

Congress' winning strategy in Punjab: stiff resistance to tie-up with AAP, fielding heavyweights, exploiting anti-establishment sentiment, and re-establishing base in Malwa belt.

Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa’s stiff resistance to a tie-up with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state and advice to the high command to field heavyweights turnout to be the Indian National Congress’ winning strategy as the party walked away with seven out of the 13 seats in Punjab.

Congress supporters in jubilant mood in Jalandhar on Tuesday. (ANI)
Congress supporters in jubilant mood in Jalandhar on Tuesday. (ANI)

Out of the six it lost, it finished second in four seats. In terms of vote share, Congress has got 26.30% votes while the ruling AAP has got 26.02% of votes. With this, the grand old party has bounced back from its 2022 assembly defeat.

Among the heavyweights who won are former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab Pradesh Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and former deputy CM Sukhjinder Randhawa. Besides, Gurjit Aujla and Amar Singh retained the Amritsar and Fatehgarh Sahib respectively. New entrants Dr Dharmvira Gandhi and Sher Singh Gubaya also proved to be wise bets, winning the Patiala and Ferozepur seats respectively.

The party also fared well in Anandpur Sahib, Khadoor Sahib, Hoshiarpur and Sangrur, where it finished second. Heavyweights Sukhpal Singh Khaira from Sangrur and Vijayinder Singla who contested from Anandpur Sahib, however, faltered.

A fitting reply to turncoats

The party has also won the perception game by defeating turncoats Preneet Kaur and Ravneet Bittu.

Bajwa had made it a prestige issue to defeat Bittu, and put his weight behind Warring for the Ludhiana seat. In the run up to the elections, Bajwa had campaigned heavily for the PPCC chief to ensure his win.

Made the most of anti-incumbency in state, Centre

The party successfully exploited the anti-establishment sentiment against the state and central government as candidates and leaders raised the issues of law-and order, misuse of central and state vigilance agencies, vendetta politics and corruption to strike chord with voters. The Congress successfully exploited the farmers’ fury against the Centre over the now-scrapped agricultural laws, and reached out to youth voters by raising the issue of Agniveer recruitment.

Malwa seats back in kitty

By winning the Ludhiana, Patiala, Ferozepur and Fatehgarh Sahib seats, the Congress once again established itself in the Malwa belt, where it had suffered a humiliating defeat against the AAP in the 2022 elections. Channi’s victory helped the party re-established base with the Dalit vote bank in Doaba.

Bajwa said he is fully convinced that AAP has been rejected in Punjab because of the non-serious attitude of CM Bhagwant Mann. “Secondly, Punjab always voted against Modi, thus I insisted not to have tie up with the AAP in Punjab. And this has yielded good results,” he said.

“Let me tell you the Congress has won the semi-final. We will ensure a massive victory in the 2027 assembly elections,” he said hailing the Congress workers and candidates for massive victory.

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