A poll conducted by C-Voter founder Yashwant Deshmukh revealed the current voter sentiment for the upcoming Punjab 2017 Assembly elections.

The AAP factor

With a sharp focus on drug abuse, the Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign capitalised on the spectre haunting the “granary of India” and won four Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections. These wins were achieved on the basis of a leadership that was sourced from Manpreet Badal’s Punjab People’s Party and ex-Left leaders who until then had been a house divided in Punjab.

Therefore it was no surprise when 89% of the respondents averred that AAP’s victory in the Delhi election would affect the Punjab polls. However, only 45% thought that AAP was ‘very well’ consolidating its hold in their area while another 40% felt the party was only ‘somewhat’ doing so. A full 61% backed AAP’s decision to not contest the ongoing Punjab Municipal polls.

Another 88% believed that AAP would benefit from infighting within the SAD-BJP alliance. Further to that, 80% respondents in the poll believed that the absence of high-profile leaders such as Manish Sisodia and Arvind Kejriwal in Punjab would not hinder AAP’s poll prospects in the state. Also, commenting on the Dera factor 39% respondents believed that Dera Sacha Sauda’s leaning towards the BJP could impact polls; 55% thought otherwise.

CM Candidate

When asked to name the best candidate for the post of chief minister of Punjab, 27% respondents favoured Captain Amarinder Singh and 26% preferred Bhagwant Mann, an AAP MP. Only 14% wanted to see Navjot Sidhu of the BJP in power, while current deputy CM Sukhbir Badal got a mere 2% approval rating. Hence we can conclude that as of now, at least in terms of leadership stakes, the major battle is between the AAP and Congress. The BJP is losing ground and the SAD seems to have fallen by the wayside.

2017 Elections

Our next focus of exploration was perception of win. When the respondents were asked to name the winner of the next elections irrespective of their loyalties, 56% of the respondents thought that the AAP would walk away with the winner’s title in 2017. A mere 9% believed that the Congress would win 2017, 8% backed the BJP as frontrunner while only 5% thought SAD had a fighting chance. Clearly, in terms of voter perception at least, AAP enjoys a runaway lead in Punjab.

Punjab was one of the earliest states to dislodge a Congress state government and it could repeat the trend by being the first major state where AAP could score a victory and outflank the twin poles of current Punjab polity.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post Blogs by Yashwant Deshmukh the Founder of C-Voter

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