Much was at stake for Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and its chief ministerial face Sukhbir Singh Badal in these elections, for it was meant to be a generational shift in the party with the senior Badal hoping to see his son in the leadership and eventual CM role. But the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sweep decimated Badal’s hope and left Sukhbir with a lot of ground to recover.
The SAD came down to single-digit score in this high-stake election, managing to win only six seats despite having stitched together an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and wanting to cash in on the large Dalit population of 32%.
The face of the party and president, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who contested from stronghold Jalalabad and traditional seat of the Badals, lost against AAP’s Jagdeep Kamboj.
Despite being one of the parties to have started its campaign in September last year, the results on ground did not reflect their claims.
SAD had parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a long association of more than a decade and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, too, resigned from the Union cabinet.
Sukhbir who won from here in 2017 (resigned in 2019 after being elected to the Lok Sabha) and in 2012, failed to leave an impression on voters.
Will the SAD even lose its tag of a regional satrap? With party patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, too, losing for the second time, it shows the party’s outreach has failed.
“The SAD had raised the hopes of people of Punjab when they romped back to power in 2012, fighting an anti-incumbency wave,” said a senior political analyst. But it was that tenure of five years which also ensured the party’s downfall.
It saw corruption, allegations of drug trafficking, incidents of sacrilege and in some cases, the aggrieved are still waiting for any concrete action against the alleged perpetrators.
Anger, coupled with what many are now terming as “lack of vision” and “unfulfilled promises”, compelled the voters to oust the Badals.
The political future of another prominent leader of SAD, Bikram Singh Majithia, who too contested against PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and had to bite the dust, now hangs in balance.
Out of the race in Punjab after this verdict, it will have to find a way to keep itself politically relevant in the state politics, as national politics seems a distant dream for now.
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