At first glance it seems that Congress has taken the pole position in the coming elections and this view is supported by most opinion polls and the vote percentages being reflected. I will stick my neck out and say that there is another distinct possibility which pollsters are shying to talk about. What these pollsters are not saying is that sometimes a party with a lower vote percentage but concentrated in fewer seats may win more seats than a party who has a larger vote share but is evenly spread out across the entire state.

 AAP’s vote share seems to be concentrated in the Malwa region of Punjab which accounts for 69 seats. If it manages to sweep this region they will easily be the single largest party and may even get a simple majority. The eastern part of Malwa has always voted against the establishment; couple this with a significant number of voters who have been anti-Congress for more than three decades now. This will be fertile ground for AAP. The support of Dera Sacha Sauda to SAD, BJP may increase the alliances vote share, but in all probability it may not be enough to win more seats but it will lower their margin of defeat. This could hurt AAP and help INC. The Dera has significant influence in 40 of 69 seats in the Malwa region.

Let us closely examine the traditional vote bank and strongholds of each party.

Punjab has 32 urban seats & 85 rural seats. In this rural belt SAD is losing it’s vote share to AAP.

Two distinct possibilities arise.

If SAD bastions in the rural belt collapse then AAP sweeps them.

If SAD loses around 50% of its vote share the vote share could be evenly spread between all the three parties and will result in an equal number of seats won by the three contenders or Congress winning a larger share of seats as the core votebank of AAP & SAD is exactly the same.

Lessons from previous elections

It is very important to keep in mind that in the last assembly elections 10 assembly seats were won by less than 1000 votes and 9 of these seats were won by SAD and 1 by INC. The fate of these seats coupled with Manpreet Badal’s 5.17% played a crucial role in the results. BSP also added to the misery of INC by retaining the Hindu dalit vote in Doaba who would have voted for the INC. The vote share of SAD BJP alliance was 41.88% and INC got 40.11%.

The SAD-BJP combine secured a clear majority by winning 68 seats while the Congress got 46 and the remaining 3 were taken by the independents. Among the independents, one was a Congress rebel while the others earlier belonged to the SAD.

Table 1: Party-wise Vote Percentage (2007 and 2012) — LOKNITI 

Table 2: Region-wise Seats

Region-wise Seats won by Political Parties

Important things to consider this time around:

INC in lead closely followed by AAP.

AAP strong in Malwa (specifically in Eastern Malwa).

Dera announces support to SAD, BJP. This will help but may not be enough. Dera stronghold in Malwa.

INC has a better campaign than usual. Navjot Singh Sidhu & Manpreet Badal have joined INC and will add vigor to the INC campaign led by Amarinder Singh and rising star of Punjab INC Ravneet Singh Bittu has taken the battle to the Akali bastions.

Will INC be able to maintain or extend their lead in urban areas and at the same time increase their seats in rural areas.

Is it possible that like BSP’s vote share that is under reported or captured in polls, so is AAP’s vote share.under reported.

Will AAP manage to get both the dalit Sikh and dalit Hindu votes?

In case AAP does win Punjab, it will be fastest rise of a state party.

In case of a hung assembly Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Bains brothers may play a crucial role.

First Published | 3 February 2017 3:36 PM
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