Punjab heads for triangular contests

With just over 20 days to go for crucial assembly elections in Punjab, political uncertainty looms over the frontier state on the issue of who will assume power post-March 11, once the results are declared.  The reason for this is that Punjab, for the first time, is witnessing triangular contests in most of the 117 assembly constituencies. Traditional rivals, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine and the Congress, are not only fighting each other, but are aware of the political challenge being posed by the latest entrant on Punjab’s political turf — the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).  As of today, none of the parties seems to have the edge, even though each one of them claims to be heading for a clear, and even sweeping, majority in the February 4 election. Not surprisingly, in this uncertain period, a rather unusual question is being asked: “Will Punjab end up with a hung assembly?”  Till about a year ago, the AAP had made formidable inroads in the state and opinion polls even suggested a massive win. But a lot has changed since then.

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