Tectonic Shift

There is a lot of room for a third political party in India.

By Amjad Ali | May 2022

The Indian Punjab has historically been dominated by the Indian National Congress party. However, the lately incumbent BJP and the Congress have been fiercely battling in the state. To their utter surprise, the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept recent elections and formed the government in the state.

AAP is just ten years old but has defeated not only the dominant parties but also families like that of Badal. Merely a decade ago, the party came into power in Delhi. It is indeed Kejriwal’s slogan for anti-corruption, institutional reforms, poverty alleviation and job creation and rejection for communal politics that has appealed to the population. Moreover, it’s popularity is increasing multi-fold, especially in those states where the BJP and Congress are predominantly contesting.

These new dynamics of Indian politics are portraying a picture of tectonic shift that is rejecting communal politics propagated by the Modi-led BJP that has sown the seeds of discord in the Indian social fabric.

AAP has proved to be somewhat of an alternative to the BJP in some parts of India. Punjab was long dominated by the Congress. Nevertheless, the rise of AAP which swept elections was a shock for the Congress and BJP alike. They had not expected their downfall and rise of Kejrewal so suddenly and so surprisingly. AAP has won 92 out of 117 seats for the state legislature. It was a big upset for current CM Charanjit Singh Channi, who contested on two seats and was defeated on both of them; other than him, five-time CM Parkash Singh Badal, two-time chief minister Amarinder Singh, and Congress heavyweight Navjot Singh Sidhu also met the same fate.

Congress appointed Charanjeet Singh Channi, a Dalit leader keeping in view that Punjab has the highest Dalit population - some 30%. In their view, they had secured the 30% vote bank by nominating a Dalit leader. Consequently, it would be a smooth sailing for the party. Congress Punjab leader Sindhu was also hopeful that Punjab was Congress-dominated, hence the victory was certain for their party. To their utter shock, things turned otherwise.

The farmers protest against the Modi regime, was a time that provided a unique opportunity to the then ruling Congress to further consolidate their hold in Punjab by gaining the sympathy of agitating farmers. Nonetheless, they could not seize this opportunity. It remained a house divided in Punjab state. Additionally, its local chapter followed high command orders and a handful of people dictated the strategy that was divorced of ground realities.

Read More