How did the Congress bounce back in Punjab? | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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How did the Congress bounce back in Punjab?

Jun 04, 2024 11:25 PM IST

In 2022, AAP won a three-fourth majority in assembly elections in Punjab. Congress, which was in power in the state, was reduced to a seat share of just 23%

In 2022, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a three-fourth majority in the assembly elections in Punjab. The Congress, which was in power in the state, was reduced to a seat share of just 23%. The 2024 Lok Sabha elections have turned the tables completely. While the AAP has been reduced to just three seats in the state, the Congress has won seven seats, which is just one short of its 2019 tally. How did the Congress manage to regain Punjab? What makes this question even more intriguing is the fact that both the Congress and the AAP have a vote share of 26% in the state. Just two charts are enough to answer this question.

 (Representative Photo)
(Representative Photo)

The answer to this question lies in the large increase in the level of political fragmentation in the state. The median value of Effective Number of Parties (ENOP) in Punjab in 2024 is 4.3. It is the highest this number has ever been in the history of the state. ENOP is the reciprocal of the sum of squares of the vote share of all candidates in a constituency and a higher value denotes greater political fragmentation in the elections. For example, if there are four candidates in a constituency and they get 26%, 25%, 25% and 24% votes, the ENOP value will be 3.99. If these vote share numbers change to 50%, 45%, 3%, and 2% ENOP will fall to 2.2. In a state where the contest is four-cornered, it is eminently possible for a party to win 60% of the seats with even a 26% vote share.

Median ENOP in LS elections in Punjab
Median ENOP in LS elections in Punjab

To be sure, the Congress’s performance can also be ascribed to its ability to win back its vote share in selected pockets of the state. Trivedi Center for Political Data (TCPD) divides Punjab into three sub-regions: Malwa, Majha and Doab. These three regions have eight, three and two PCs, respectively. Four of the Congress’s seven seats have come from the Malwa region in the state. In terms of vote share, Congress has made a 4.8 percentage point gain in Malwa and a 4 percentage point gain in Doaba and seen a marginal decline of 0.3 percentage points in the Majha region compared to its vote share in the 2022 assembly elections. The AAP, on the other hand, has seen a fall of 20 percentage points in Malwa, 14.2 percentage points in Majha and 3.7 percentage points in Doaba region.

Region wise change in vote share
Region wise change in vote share

These numbers will cheer the Congress as of now, but they also suggest that Punjab politics has entered a new phase of electoral and even ideological fragmentation.

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