Border state Punjab is all set to elect its next government. Punjab will vote on February 20, 2022, and results will be declared on March 10, 2022. The state of Punjab has witnessed two chief ministers in a single Congress’ regime. After Captain Amarinder Singh was shown the way out by the Congress’ national leadership, Congress has suffered major jolts. Several senior Congress leaders have parted ways with the grand old party, most of them being Captain loyalists.
An Alliance for Security
BJP has entered into an alliance with PLC and SAD(S), BJP being the senior partner. This alliance has been referred to as ‘an alliance for security’. BJP has partnered with Captain Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Loktantrik Congress (PLC) and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s Akali Dal (Sanyukt).
Punjab has a total of 117 seats. BJP will be fighting on 65 seats, Captain’s Punjab Loktantrik Congress on 37 seats and Dhindsa’s Akali Dal (Sanyukt) on 15 seats. The seat distribution shows that the coalition has been formed while keeping the traditional vote banks of the parties in mind.
Captain: A Congress man for four decades
The focal point of Punjab elections has been revolving around Captain Amarinder Singh. Captain Amarinder Singh still referred to as ‘Maharaja Sahib’ is a descendant of Patiala’s Royal Family. As Captain’s father Yadavindra Singh was the last ruler of Patiala representing the ‘Phulkian dynasty’. Amarinder, an ex-serviceman, was serving as the chief minister of Punjab until he resigned in September last year.
Captain, who walked with the Congress’ ideology for more than four decades, took a step that was not new to him. He once again created his own party, this time with the name of Punjab Loktantrik Congress (PLC). And this assembly election will decide the future of Captain’s PLC.
Exodus from Congress
After Amarinder Singh, a flurry of politicians have parted ways from the grand old party, latest name on the list is Amarjeet Singh Tikka. Tikka is a senior leader and Chairperson of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation. His exodus has given a jolt to the Congress party in Punjab. He resigned from the Congress Party after Congress fielded Ishwarjot Singh Cheema from Ludhiana South. Tikka was seeking a ticket from the same seat. He even wrote to Sonia Gandhi, explaining the reasons behind his exit.
Punjab Congress leader and Punjab Medium Industry Development Board Chairman, Amarjeet Singh Tikka tenders his resignation from the party & all party posts. pic.twitter.com/zNYdnyJp6Z
— ANI (@ANI) February 1, 2022
Amarjeet Tikka’s exodus is not a new phenomenon. Captain’s resignation was followed by several resignations of Congress giants. The names include former cabinet minister Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Fateh Singh Bajwa and Balwinder Laddi among others. All were Captain’s loyalists.
Evidently, it has been very difficult for Congress to keep the flock together. All these defections have given a major jolt to the Congress party in Punjab. This has resulted in the landing of Congress on shaky ground.
Captain was recently found saying that, “for the security and development of a border state like Punjab it is very important that the state government functions in a close association with the central government. And that can be only possible if Punjab has a double engine government”.
Captain along with its alliance partners are giving out a clear message to the people of Punjab that only PLC along with its partners can provide a stable government to the state under the jurisdiction of BJP.
Another reason responsible for the recent exodus is the humiliation faced by the leaders within the party. Captain loyalists were very disappointed with the treatment Captain received from the Congress high command. The way he was sidelined and targeted despite being a congress loyalist has also upset Captain loyalists. The newly appointed Punjab’s CM Channi has been constantly targeting Captain. Many prominent Congress leaders who have close ties with Captain have been denied party tickets. All of this together has led to rupture in the Congress party. In the near future, it may lead to a mass exodus of Congress leaders, especially Armbinder’s loyalists. A similar humiliation was faced by the Captain loyalists when some of them were dropped from the cabinet expansion.
Party hopping or defections just before the polls is not new in a country like India. From Sharad Pawar to Mamta Banerjee to Jyotiraditya Scindia, politicians have switched parties in the wake of polls. The main reason behind defections is to gain, what a politician thinks he or she deserves. Mostly, the politician defecting brings his voter base along with them. This in turn benefits the party or alliance supporting or inducting the defectors.