The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal fought on their own in the recently concluded assembly polls in Punjab. The landmark victory of Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab consisting of 92 , however, had led the other parties to get the wind up. The political parties including Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal have hit the lowest in their electoral history of Punjab since it was carved out as a separate state in 1966.
But, there is one party which needs attention of the people as it was assumed to be one of the prominent parties in Punjab. It has witnessed the worst-ever electoral performance this year. Yes, it is the 100-year-old Shiromani Akali Dal which could not even made it to double digit mark and won only 03 seats as compared to the 15 seats it had won in the 117 Assembly seats in 2017 elections.
Akali Dal’s worst ever performance
The only SAD candidates who managed to win the seat for the party are Bikram Singh Majithia’s wife Ganieve Kaur (from Majitha), Manpreet Singh Ayali from Dakha and Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi from Banga. SAD won a seat each in Majha, Malwa and Doaba region.
The elections in Punjab brought a humiliating defeat for the majority of the big guns, including chief ministerial candidates of Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal. Most of them were defeated by AAP nominees. These big guns included five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
For those unversed, Parkash Singh Badal was known for not losing any poll until this election. He lost to Gurmeet Singh Khudian of AAP by a margin of 11,396 votes. Moreover, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal also had to sit empty handed as he too, lost from his bastion of Jalalabad to AAP candidate Jagdeep Kamboj by 30,930 votes.
Akali Dal must get back with BJP to survive
Akali Dal was not just the oldest partner of the Bhartiya Janta Party but was also one of the founding members of the NDA Alliance. The alliance between the BJP and SAD broke on the debate of contentious Farm Laws brought in by the Modi Government. The orthodox Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is dependent on BSP after exiting from NDA to save its sinking boat in Punjab.
The alliance between the Akalis and the BJP has been termed as ‘a marriage of convenience’, as the ideology of both parties were poles apart. The BJP had a stronghold in the urban population of Punjab, especially Hindus and the Akali Dal had portrayed itself as ‘gareebon ki party’. In this alliance, the BJP brought in the urban class Hindu (Khatri) votes whereas Shiromani Akali Dal focused on the rural votes.
The Akalis never allowed the BJP to contest from any rural seat, claiming it as their vote bank. Rather sometimes the Akalis also encroached on some of the urban seats where BJP had a stronghold in the name of being the senior partner in the alliance.
SAD left NDA in anticipation that it will help the party return to power in the 2022 assembly elections. But if the assembly elections results are any indication, the flip-flop of the party has only harmed its electability. BJP being a prominent party in the country can help save Akali Dal’s political fortune and it is high time that the latter pleads with the saffron party to get back with it. Else, the curtains are down for Akali Dal in Punjab.