Is AAP victory in cosmopolitan Chandigarh a trailer before Punjab polls? | India News

NEW DELHI: The Chandigarh municipal elections have brought cheer to Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which emerged as the party with the largest number of elected candidates.
The new entrant AAP won 14 of 35 wards pushing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the second place with 12 seats. Congress won eight and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) one. In the 2016 Chandigarh polls, BJP had swept 20 of the 26 seats.
Is the AAP performance in cosmopolitan Chandigarh just ahead of the Punjab polls a trailer of things to come or does the state capital not always think in unison with the agrarian state. How much can be read into this election?
Here is a look at the key factors:
1) Chandigarh is urban, Punjab is largely agrarian: Emerging the largest group on debut in any election is no mean feat, however, the population of Chandigarh cannot be taken as an accurate sample for the much larger Punjab. Chandigarh, known as the ‘city beautiful’ is one of the country’s few planned towns. The population is largely literate and a big section among them are salaried employees. Punjab on the other hand is a state immersed in agriculture and is spread across three regions: Malwa, Majha and Doaba, which have their own characteristics. Naturally, the issues that appeal to the Chandigarh urbanite may at times differ from the concerns of those toiling in the state’s fields.
2) The influence of Haryana and Himachal: Chandigarh is the capital of not just Punjab but Haryana as well. Himachal Pradesh is the third state which is just a few minutes drive away. Interestingly, the BJP, which has a small base in Punjab, is the ruling party in the other two states. The voters belonging to Himachal and Haryana also have a significant say in deciding who wins the election. Unlike Chandigarh where BJP was in power, Congress and Akali Dal are the major challenge for AAP in Punjab.
3) Farm protests: The BJP, which ruled the Chandigarh civic body, lost including some of its top leaders. The farm protests created an atmosphere where large sections in Punjab and adjoining areas did not look at the party favourably. The agitation has ended but sympathy for farmers is still there which will definitely benefit BJP’s rivals. In Chandigarh also, farm protests may not have been the deciding factor, but definitely an aspect from which other parties benefit.
The rise of AAP also indicates that many feel inclined towards a third alternative to BJP and Congress.
In Punjab, farmer bodies are planning their own outfit. If they contest separately or in alliance with another party is to be seen. This development has the potential to hugely affect the results.
4) Vote share: According to initial reports, the AAP has emerged as the largest party in terms of seats but the vote share of both the BJP and Congress is substantial. According to some reports, the vote share of all the three parties is quite close. A swing by a few percentage points may hugely alter the result. Secondly, the AAP has emerged the largest party but has not gained the majority. Incase, a hung assembly emerges in Punjab, keeping the flock together would be a major challenge for the party which has seen several of its MLAs deserting it.

Administration: Chandigarh is a union territory administered by the Centre. Its schools, public infrastructure and law and order are definitely better than most places in the country. However, these issues are always relevant in a state election.

6) Identities: Identity politics also plays a significant role in the Punjab election like many others. The Congress has made Charanjit Singh Channi, the state’s first Dalit chief minister. The Jat Sikhs are the caste to which most of the state’s previous chief ministers have belonged. There is also a significant vote share of minority Hindu population across the state. Success at the hustings will also be a function of which party manages the aspirations and concerns of all sections better.
Polling was for Chandigarh civic body was held on December 24 while the votes were counted on Monday.

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