Assembly elections to be held in Punjab

Legislative elections will begin today in Punjab. All 117 seats of Punjab’s legislative assembly will be contested. Although the Indian

Assembly elections to be held in Punjab Photo: Rana Simranjit

Legislative elections will begin today in Punjab.

All 117 seats of Punjab’s legislative assembly will be contested. Although the Indian National Congress (INC) won an absolute majority in the 2017 assembly elections, it now is in a triangular contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Punjab shows a trend of incumbents losing reelection, with the INC ousting the BJP from power in 2017. The INC has since weakened—its former leader and ex-Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh resigned in 2021 and formed his own BJP-allied party.

Punjab’s economy is dominated by agriculture, and India’s farmer protests have been a political flashpoint. However, the political unity shown against New Delhi has fractured, with 10 of the region’s 32 farmers’ unions declining to join a new political party—Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM)–to contest the elections.

Expect the AAP to prevail in today’s election over the INC but without an absolute majority. As the SSM has ruled out alliance with the AAP, they will have to look elsewhere for a coalition partner, possibly to the center-right Shiromani Akali Dal. Still, voters must wait to see if such an electoral strategy works, as results will not be announced until March 10.

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