Who will win the Punjab Elections in 2022?

Who will win the Punjab elections in 2022?

The 2022 Assembly elections for Punjab are just right around the corner, and the political parties in Punjab are trying to woo the attention of voters of particular communities to their cause. However, this time around, even new entrants like Aam Aadmi Party or Shiromani Akali Dal- Sayukat are playing upon the same vote bank politics and the old parties like BJP, the Indian National Congress, and Shiromani Akali Dal (B). As of the 2011 Census, Punjab comprises various Religious and caste-based divides, and thus this Vote Bank politics can have a massive impact on the elections. According to the 2011 census, Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes form 63.2% of the total population of Punjab. So what do the Punjab elections have in store for the various political parties contesting:


Key Issues: Punjab elections have turned into a heated battleground of opinions with illegal sand mining, rising state debt, drug menace, along with farmers’ bodies which have thrown their agendas in the ring. The opposition has targeted the Congress Government in power over previous poll promises and unemployment. It has also faced criticism over not regularizing services of contractual employees under its hood in various departments. Another significant issue is the pending delivery of justice in cases linked with Guru Granth Sahib and the firing by police on those who were protesting against it.


How Punjab likes to vote historically:

According to data from Lokniti Survey(CSDS) since 2002 Assembly Polls, Dalits of the state, both Hindu and Sikhs, have traditionally favored Congress over the rivals BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal, irrespective of the outcome of the elections. At 32% of the population, Punjab has the highest proportion of Dalits in any Indian state, and 34 out of the 117 seats are reserved for the Scheduled castes. 25% of the population consists of Jat Sikhs.


Dalit Sikh vote: Before AAP’s debut in 2017, Punjab was majorly a bipolar fight with the Congress and SAD since 2002; the vote share of both parties also remained around 35-45%. The Dalit Sikh vote share since 2002 had remained substantially high for Congress, even when Congress lost the Punjab assembly polls to the SAD-BJP combine in 2007 and 2012, the Dalit Sikh vote share was significantly higher than its rival.

Dalit Sikh vote (in %)

Source: CSDS Lokniti Survey

Hindu Dalit Vote: Congress has kept its hold on the Hindu Dalit vote share over the years; however, in 2017, AAP debuted with in-roads with the overall Dalit vote share 2017. This is evident from the fact that from the 20 seats it won in 2017, nine were reserved for scheduled castes, and another half a dozen scheduled caste seats, it finished a close second. However, overall the Congress won 21 of the 34 seats reserved for Dalits.

Non-Dalit Hindu Vote (in %)

Source: CSDS Lokniti Survey


Jat Sikh vote: The Jat Sikh population of Punjab has traditionally favored the Akalis (or the Akali-BJP coalition). However, Congress seems to have succeeded in attracting vote share whenever Akalis have seen a dip in their vote share.

Jat Sikh vote (in %)

Source: CSDS Lokniti Survey


OBC Sikh Vote: The OBC Sikh has remained fairly distributed among Congress and SAD over the years, hovering around 30-40% for either party. AAP, the newest entrant, has already penetrated quite a sizeable amount of OBC Sik vote share during the 2017 elections.

OBC Sikh vote (in %)

Source: CSDS Lokniti Survey


Aam Aadmi Party: AAP had a tremendous election in Punjab in 2017; as a new entrant, it secured 20 seats out of the 112 it contested. As the 2022 election season is in the air, the poll forecasts are waving a green flag for AAP this time too. It is expected to win 53-57 seats out of 117 in the Punjab Assembly, and pre-poll surveys indicate a neck-to-neck fight between AAP and Congress. It has been heavily banking on Arvind Kejriwal’s Delhi model of governance, announcing 300 units of free electricity and 1000 rupees to every woman while emphasizing improving the condition of government hospitals and schools. Other key promises include corruption-free recruitment of police officers, through the probe in all critical cases, improvement of technology of the Border Security Force, and reduction of corruption, i.e., Delhi Model. If the polls come true, AAP will be well ahead of all the other parties. The 2022 election can prove to be a turning point for AAP, as winning the polls would get it a step closer to shedding its tag of being a Delhi-centric party and having a government in at least two states.AAP is yet to announce it’s the chief ministerial candidate.


Indian National Congress: The Congress emerged victorious in 2017 with 77 seats won and Captain Amrinder Singh as the Chief Minister. However, just a few months before the elections, Congress High Command replaced the sitting Chief Minister with S. Charanjit Singh Channi from the SC community. Congress has also been on the receiving end of the opposition’s attack on various vital promises that have remained unfulfilled. Thus this instability and the performance of the new Chief Minister will have a significant impact on their performance. However, over the years, Congress had its grip over the Dalit Vote share, which can play an essential factor in the results. Several pre-poll surveys indicate a neck-to-neck fight between AAP and Congress. However, both parties are yet to announce their CM candidates.


National Democratic Alliance (BJP+Punjab Lok Congress+Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt)):

Captain Amrinder Singh, after an abrupt exit from the Congress, has formed his party, the Punjab Lok Congress, and joined hands with BJP, thereby adding a new dimension to the polls, which were earlier being seen as a contest between Congress and the AAP. According to some analysts, this new Alliance can prove to boost BJP. Portraying himself as a secular leader for years, the Hindu votes of Punjab have always inclined towards Captain Amrinder Singh, in clear picture, towards Congress Party. This inclination harms the chances of the Congress party and benefits BJP with a leader who has a statewide vote bank. But, this is not sufficient to win the election of Punjab; the recent pre-poll surveys still indicate a not-so-competitive fight in Punjab for NDA. 


Shiromani Akali Dal+: The long-standing Alliance between the BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal ended due to differences of opinion on the farm laws. Thus Akali Dal has recently entered into an alliance with BSP led by Mayawati. The highlight of promises made by SAD, which is captivating public attention, is the restoration of Chandigarh to Punjab if voted to power. Another engrossing promise made by the Chief of SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal was launching a campaign that will provide special grants to villages dominated by the SC population if they form a government. This move could prove to be one of the smartest to gather the vote bank of the SC community. Pre-poll surveys indicate a haul of around 16-25 seats for the Alliance.


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Ronit Singh Rawat
Ishita Tripathi