The ‘D-word will be the deciding factor in the Punjab elections. The D word refers to Demonetization and Drugs that will play a prominent role against the AKali-BJP government in Punjab.
Punjab is mainly based on agriculture which is basically a cash economy.Demonetisation has affected farm sector so adversely that farm produce in various Mandis was sold at almost half the price of the last year.This will adversely impact the poll prospects of the BJP-Akali alliance .
Drug menace is another key issue in poll-bound Punjab where huge number of youths are victims of drug abuse that is destroying families and this having happened in Badal-BJP’s regime which will cause a real damage to Badals in this election.
Further with cross- border smuggling where police under the Badals administration coupled with goonda elements and money power has also flourished under Badals patronage.
There is a triangular contest between Congress, AAP and Akali-BJP combine in Punjab assembly elections where Congress enjoys goodwill among the voters while AAP is an interesting player but for Badals chances are remote and there is a lot of anger and frustration among the voters for Badals family.The Akali Dal and the congress have dominated the Punjab politics for decades and AAP being a newcomer may not be able to establish a network among the different categories of voters. All the 117 assembly seats of Punjab will go to polls on Fabruary 4 and results will be announced on March 11.
Dera politics also plays an important role in the formation of government in Punjab as there is one dera in every constituency connected with different castes and political parties.
Dear Sacha Sauda situated in Sirsa (Haryana) has also followers in Punjab but the sacrilege incidents of Guru Granth Sahib is affecting the influence of this dera.And the prime minister Narendra Modi has suddenly woken up during poll season assuring that CBI will probe the sacrilege and deaths in police firing .
Thus Congress enjoys an advantage because such communal incidents do not crop up during Congress regimes.
Majha region of Punjab has maximum number of representatives of Akali Dal.But widespread protests in 2015 due to desecration of the holy books of Sikhs and due anti-incumbency factor ,the voters are going to support Congress this time.
Malwa is the largest region with 69 seats in Punjab where real contest is between Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and Congress. As AAP has roped in NRI’s for campaigning for AAP in Punjab’s Malwa and Captain Amarinder Singh also pulls his weight in a number of constituencies in this region as it is predominantly rural where farmers were most affected by demonetization and thereafter BJP government enhanced the price of fertilizers and seeds which again made the live of farmers miserable.
The Congress is strong in Doaba too which has a sizable vote bank of reserved castes and AAP will find it tough to woo the Dalit votes.
These elections can be a turning point for Punjab as this time the vote will be on issues of demonetization ,drugs and sacrilege of holy books rather than on caste .Even the poll surveys are predicting a Congress government with a comfortable majority with 60-70 seats and Aam Aadmi Party will be relegated to second position.