The humiliating defeat of the BJP and the Akalis in Punjab civic body polls is not merely a small political happening of the state politics, but is a significant one for the national politics of the country. Though, making a clean sweep by the Congress winning six of the seven municipal corporations and emerging as the single largest party, is a great boost to the Congress in the state, it has a potential of pushing up the morale of the Congress workers in other states as well. Notably, the elections were held amid farmers’ protest against the three farm laws enacted by the BJP led NDA government at the centre that has also got the four labour codes passed by the parliament and subsequently notified. It is true that any local body election is contested primarily on local issues. However, these elections of the urban local bodies were not fought with local issues as the main concern of the people. People now think BJP as the most dangerous for them which is bent upon distorting not only the agri-market through the three farm laws, but also has threatened the well-being of the working class by tampering the labour laws through four labour codes. So much so, some BJP leaders also preferred not to participate in election campaigns for in many areas people have declared that any BJP leader visiting their area for election campaigns would be greeted with ‘wreaths of shoes’. It was a very bad situation, if viewed with the point of view of democracy, since no one should be threatened like that for the sake of free and fair election.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) became peoples’ next target, since the party is being looked at with distrust, despite them quitting the NDA in a bid to retain their support base. Nevertheless, people could not forget that SAD was the former accomplice of the BJP and hence merely disassociating from the BJP did not work for SAD. Moreover, though, the Hindus and the Sikhs form the majority in Punjab, they preferred not to vote for the BJP – the self-proclaimed defender of Hindutva and SAD the imposing so-called custodian of the faith of Sikhism.
The Congress is ruling the state, and it was obvious that there were some anti-establishment sentiments among the people. They have certain grievances against the party, but it was perceived as the least dangerous and people believed that the party at least would not put them into any further ‘struggle for survival’. However, Congress will have to work hard to replicate such success in other states. The lesson for the party is that it should do everything possible for farmers and the working class. While on one hand, when the BJP and SAD left no stone unturned against Congress by even urging the Sikhs not to vote for Congress blaming them for ‘Sikhs Genocide in 1984’, on the other, such bitter communal arguments were utterly rejected by the voters. The results are certainly a big boost for Congress in the state ahead of assembly polls, and a huge setback for the BJP and SAD, however, it has lessons for other states too, and also for the country as a whole.