#KnowYourVote: How Punjab’s Political scene overturned after several major party shifts

Captain Amarinder Singh’s shift from Congress led to a cascading effect, where Congress suffered major losses as its star players defected to the opposition team

Youth Punjab Trending

The political picture of Punjab has changed a lot between 2019 and 2024 as due to major changes in party allegiances, the balance of many parties has gone haywire. This has created a challenge for the major parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha contest. Veteran players like Captain Amarinder Singh and Sunil Jakhar delivered major blows to Congress by joining the BJP. From the point of view of profit and loss, the biggest loss was suffered by Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal over these five years. At the same time, BJP and Aam Aadmi Party have benefitted immensely.


In 2019, Congress had stopped Narendra Modi's “Ashwamedha Yagya” in Punjab by winning 8 Lok Sabha seats. However, by the year 2022, Congress would go on to suffer from many of its major players shifting their loyalties. When Congress decided to remove Captain Amarinder Singh from the post of Chief Minister, the Captain sidelined himself by resigning from the party. From here the process of changing sides of Congress players started. Leaders like the Captain, Sunil Jakhar, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Fateh Jang Bajwa and Manpreet Badal joined the BJP.


The effects of the Captain joining BJP were felt by Congress who responded by suspending the Captain's wife and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur from the party, who has now joined the BJP. There is a possibility that she will contest from Patiala for BJP. Earlier, BJP had made only Dhillon its candidate in Sangrur by-election though he lost.


The Aam Aadmi Party saw success implementing the old formula of 'widening your line by shortening the lines of others'. In Jalandhar, AAP welcomed former Congress MLA Sushil Rinku into the party and made him a candidate in the by-elections of Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat. The experiment was successful as Sushil Rinku won.


Now AAP has again made Rinku a candidate from Jalandhar. Seeing the success of Jalandhar, AAP has welcomed former Congress MLA from Bassi Pathana, Gurpreet Singh GP into the party. The party has made him its candidate from Fatehgarh Sahib. Former Congress MLA Raj Kumar Chabbewal also joined AAP in a major blow to Congress with rumours circulating that AAP may field him from Hoshiarpur seat.


Patiala slipped out of Congress's hands

With Captain leaving the party, Congress's stronghold on Patiala is now lost to BJP. At the same time, Congress suffered loss in Firozpur seat due to the departure of Jakhar and Rana Sodhi. The remaining carcass was burned by Sushil Rinku in the by-elections of Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat in 2023. Leaving Congress, Rinku became a candidate from Aam Aadmi Party and he also won the election. Due to this, even a strong fort like Congress in Jalandhar collapsed. However, Congress is now falling victim to factionalism due to weak leadership, according to Political experts. Amarinder Singh had not accepted Raja Warring as the captain team.


It is important to know that leaders like former Congress ministers Balbir Siddh, Sundar Sham Arora, Gurpreet Kangar, Rajkumar Verka and Kewal Dhillon etc. had left Congress and joined the BJP. However, later leaders like Balbir Sidhu, Gurpreet Kangar, Rajkumar Verka etc. shocked the BJP by returning home to Congress.


These shifting alllegiances have resulted in a massive change in the political landscape of Punjab. The major players of the 2019 Lok Sabha contest are now on the backfoot. Congress, who had won 8 seats in the 2019 election has lost a majority of their strongest players, which could result in AAP & BJP delivering a massive upset in the 2024 elections.