Four-Cornered Contest To Make Punjab Poll Fight A Tough One

The Congress had swept the state in 2017 winning 77 out of the total 117 assembly seats but may face an uphill task to retain power.

Ahead of the 2022 assembly elections, there appears to be no clear winner in Punjab which will witness a four-cornered contest early next year.

Until August, there were three major blocks fighting it out in the northern state, the Congress, the AAP and the SAD-BSP combine but the entry of former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress has made it a four-cornered contest.

The PLC was born last month after a bitter power-tussle in the Congress which saw the former chief minister being forced to quit the top post in September.

Riding on the popularity of the former chief minister, the new party is expected to cut into the vote banks of both the Congress and the AAP, which vie for the same vote bank as that of the grand old party.

Though Amarinder claims several Congressmen are in touch and would join him soon, it remains to be seen how many of them actually jump the ship given that most lawmakers had attended a party meet where the Captain’s ouster was planned.

Further, it is not clear if Amarinder will choose to have a formal or an informal alliance with the BJP, whose central leadership seems to be backing the former chief minister’s moves.

The Punjab unit of BJP had been reduced to a marginal player after the SAD dropped its old ally but now the saffron party senses an opportunity to be back in the game, courtesy its new-found friend PLC.

Over the past days, Amarinder has repeatedly said that a pact with the BJP could be possible if the deadlock over three contentious farm laws is resolved.

However, such a move is unlikely from the Central government.

Other than BJP, Amarinder is also eyeing pacts with some breakaway Akali factions.

The SAD, which parted way with the BJP last year over the three farm laws, had joined hands with the BSP to benefit from the 31 percent Dalit votes in the state. The SAD-BSP combine is banking on the anti-incumbency factor of the Congress government.

Earlier, the BSP had contested alone on all seats but could not win even one. Chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit Sikh and was brought in by the Congress to counter the BSP’s influence.

On its part, the ruling party is trying its best to put up a united face given the divergence in the views of chief minister Channi and state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose promotion had miffed Amarinder.

Captain’s gamble

To say whether Amarinder can win an election is a difficult proposition but he can certainly dent the Congress’ poll prospects. Announcing a party was the easy part, setting up an organization across the state is not, given the few months he has at hand to meet the challenge.

Talks for seat-sharing are perhaps on with the BJP but still he would need a system of his own. But it is clear from his utterances, that the former chief minister is out to take revenge for his ignominious exit from Navjot Sidhu and the Congress central leadership.

Sidhu, a former BJP leader who joined the Congress just before the 2017 assembly polls, had been at daggers drawn with the veteran since. By backing Amarinder, the BJP too is trying to settle its score with the cricketer-turned-politician.

In this backdrop, there appears to be no clear winner in Punjab and a four-cornered contest could well result in a hung house, paving the way for post-poll equations which may involve some horse trading as well.


The Congress had swept the state in 2017 winning 77 out of the total 117 assembly seats but may face an uphill task to retain power.

The AAP which contested the state polls for the first time had won 20 seats and became the main opposition, pushing the SAD-BJP combine which had ruled the state from 2007-2017.

The Akali could win only 15 seats and the BJP was limited to just 3.

Faced with a tough contest, the Congress is planning to again rope in poll strategist Prashant Kishor for the Punjab elections.

Kishor had played a key role in Amarinder’s 2017 win and was again hired by him for the 2022 polls but the strategist later quit saying he wanted to focus at the national level. A proposal to bring back Kishor is being considered by the central leadership even as Channi is trying to reach out to every section of society.


AAP convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is trying to take mileage in Punjab having sensed a disquiet in the Congress camp. But AAP has its own set of problems in the state, the foremost being the lack of a credible face.

AAP also faced rebellion. Former Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira, along with two other party MLAs Jagdev Singh Kamala and Pirmal Singh Dhaula, have joined the Congress.

When Amarinder announced his new party, the AAP slammed the move saying the BJP was helping the former chief minister to dent it.


SAD has roots in rural Punjab while the BJP has voters in some urban centres. Post its separation from the SAD, the BJP had declared a plan to contest all the 117 assembly seats alone. Traditionally, the BJP used to get 23 assembly seats and the SAD contested 94.

This time, BJP is firing from the Captain’s shoulders.

One of the allegations levelled by Sidhu against Amarinder was inaction in the 2015 sacrilege case in which the SAD had suffered damage over controversies related to desecration of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, which dented the credibility of party’s patrons- the Badal family.

The SAD has stayed away from AAP and regularly questions Kejriwal’s tall promises to the Punjab voters.


Mayawati-led BSP is struggling in Uttar Pradesh and the prospects in Punjab do not appear to be bright either. The BSP had won 4.2 percent votes in 2012 which further came down to 1.5 percent in 2017. Further, the party’s ability to swing votes in favour of the Akalis has been doubted by several pollsters.

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