Congress-led by Captain Amarinder Singh has emerged as the big winner in Punjab Assembly Elections. Though, initial trends indicated that Arvind Kejriwal-headed Aam Aadmi Party would give stiff competition to the grand old party, but as the results came in, the picture was clear that Badals were on their way out and the Captain would rule the state for next five years.
While AAP has expressed its disappointment over its moderate showing, the results are a big boost for the new entrant, which would now be the main opposition in the border state.
There were many reasons for the Congress' comfortable win and the defeat of Shiromani-Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine.
The increasing drug menace during the rule of SAD was one of the biggest factors for its crushing defeat. 16 percent of the population is said to be on drugs of which 90 percent consume heroin.
Besides the drugs problem, the Parkash Singh Badal-led government was marred with corruption and nepotism allegations. With AAP emerging as the main opposition, it is an indication of the people's resentment against the powerful Akalis.
The shocking pictures of liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda sitting comfortably at Fazilka prison with some Akali leaders during the election season, gave ammo to opposition to hit back at the government. Amarinder Singh had then alleged that such a meeting could not have been done without involvement from the highest levels in the government.
With Punjab comprising highest number of Dalit voters in the country, the opposition, especially the AAP successfully cornered the Akalis over Dalit-related issues. The ruling party was accused of being ignorant to the atrocities on Dalits.
Unemployment was another cause of the angst amongst the electorate. According to National Sample Survey Organisation, there are over 55 lakh jobless people in the state.
Farmer suicides – Though Punjab is considered to be one of biggest wheat producing states in the country, the state itself is reeling under the burden of over Rs 1.25 crore debt. Because of series of crop failure, debt-ridden farmers have been committing suicides, which was a huge embarrassment for the Parkash Singh Badal led government.
The alleged law and order problem was successfully highlighted by the Congress. Amarinder Singh in his extensive election campaign had repeatedly alleged total lack of law and order in the state under the Badal regime, which had given a "free run" to armed gangs, criminals and mafias to unleash their terror on the people of Punjab.
With people expressing confidence in Amarinder Singh and giving him the mandate, it would be interesting to see whether the Captain lives up to people's expectations.