New Delhi, March 8: The battle for Punjab came to a close on February 4 when the state went to polls. All eyes are now on the results that will pour out on March 11. The Punjab Assembly Election 2017 is a broad three-fold race. The Punjab Assembly elections 2017 has been more interesting than ever with the entry of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has campaigned across the state tirelessly in the interiors of Punjab. Stakes are also high for the Congress with the return of Prince of Patiala Captain Amarinder Singh at the fore. Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine is riding on the continuing Narendra Modi-wave and anti-Congress sentiment in the country even as anti-incumbency stares at the Parkash Singh Badal government that has completed two terms in Punjab. Ahead of the Punjab Assembly Election Results 2017, the poll pundits are busy collating figures for predictions and exit polls for the state. But will they be proven right? Here’s why we think they may not.
No unanimity yet on who may win
The opinion polls in this Punjab Assembly elections have not been able to bring out one clear possible winner. While some opinion polls pointed towards an AAP victory, many say the Congress may be emerging as the winner while others also predict a hat-trick for the Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance. If a similar picture emerges from the exit polls too, many of these are set to be proven wrong. (Also read: Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017: Here’s why political parties shifted from development narrative to nasty rhetoric)
The voter turnout
A voter turnout of 78.6 per cent was recorded in the Punjab Assembly elections 2017. This is very similar to last election’s 78.5 per cent voter turnout. If opinion polls are anything to go by viz-a-viz the voting percentage, no clear picture really emerges as to which party may be winning the election. It is usually seen that an exceptionally higher turnout results in a change of throne. However, nothing can be made out of a voter turnout figure that is pretty much the same as the previous election. On the other hand, the voter turnout has been significantly high in the Malwa region. It is said that the party that wins the Malwa region goes on to win the Punjab elections. However, there has been an exception to this fact in the year 2007 when the Congress won the Malwa region but lost the Punjab election. Meanwhile, whether the high voter turnout favours the AAP or the Congress can only be clear on March 11. This, even as Kejriwal has campaigned day and night in the Malwa region.
The loyal voter factor
Punjab has over 57 per cent Sikh population. There is also a 32 per cent Dalit population in the state. The Parkash Singh Badal has built a loyal voter base for itself in the past few elections. If that loyal voter base remains, this may again overthrow all opinion polls as well as predictions that the AAP or Congress have an upper hand this election. Such a scenario was also seen last election. (Also Read: Dalit constituencies expected to impact outcome of Punjab polls, view full list of reserved seats)
Punjab Assembly elections 2012 – When the exit polls erred
Last election, most of the opinion as well as exit polls had predicted that the Congress will go on to win Punjab. It was believed that the exit polls were swayed by the anti-incumbency factor that had played a significant role in the state till 2012. The CNN-IBN-Hindustan Times exit poll had predicted equal vote shares for both the Congress and the Akali-BJP combine with each winning 40-50 seats. On the other hand, News24 and Today’s Chankya had predicted a Congress win saying the party would get 60 seats. However, all predictions fell flat when the SAD-BJP combine won 68 seats in the 2012 Punjab polls.
Three-way battle for the first time
It is a never seen before scenario in Punjab this election. It is for the first time that Punjab is seeing a three-way battle with stakes high for all parties – the AAP, the Congress as well as the SAD-BJP combine. While all earlier elections, exit polls and results presented a clear two-way, one cannot ascertain as to which way the poll may go. Many say the AAP may sweep this one. But there are those who also say that the Amarinder Singh-led Congress may have an upper hand. But many within the state opine that the SAD-BJP combine will retain power. With a three-way battle, the poll pundits had also gone wrong with predictions for the Delhi Assembly elections 2015 as the Kejriwal-led AAP won a whopping 67 seats. A similar scenario stares at the Punjab elections 2017.
The exit polls for Punjab Assembly elections are set to be announced on March 9. The final results for the elections will be announced on March 11, revealing whether or not the exit polls have cracked the code this election. From what we see, Punjab Assembly election a hard one to crack this year.