<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>And so, it has happened. At long last the Congress has some reason to cheer as it won in a state without sitting on a regional satrap’s lap or playing junior partner in an alliance to win. Facing electoral reverses since 2014, the Grand Old Party managed to stick it to the SAD-BJP, and upstarts AAP who threatened to steal their thunder. As of now, Congress has won 61 seats and are leading in 17. Meanwhile, AAP is predicted to end with a dismal 20 while SAD are also looking to end up with just 14. Here are some reasons why Congress stormed Punjab:Punjab Da CaptainIt’s ironic that the high command was dithering over whether to back the Amarinder faction or the Partap Singh Bajwa faction in the battle for the state Congress. Sanity prevailed and the party decided to back Amarinder Singh who is one of the last great regional leaders left.Before the elections, the Captain had exuded confidence, stating that the Badals had ripped apart the state’s ‘social, religion and economic’ fabric and stated that Kejriwal’s ‘hype had faded’. He had also attacked the AAP as a ‘party of outsiders’, made emotional appeals saying this was his last ride and played every card, and on his 75th birthday, the Captain took Congress home. If the high command tries to paint this as a victory for Rahul Gandhi, they ought to look at UP where Congress dragged down their alliance partners.Massive anti-incumbencyThe SAD-BJP alliance had ruled the state for 10 years and the public across the state seemed to be fed up with the Badals who they saw as the reason behind massive corruption, crony capitalism, poor economy, farmer suicides and a host of other issues. The state government was seen as the main cause for lacunae plaguing the border state and people wanted change. The real question was who they were going to vote for and it seems like Captain Amarinder’s appeal, combined with AAP’s constant dithering helped roll the dice in Congress’ favour.AAP falls flat on its face Twitter is not real life, and if AAP thought that attacking PM Modi 24/7 or constantly cribbing was a substitute for on-ground work, they were in for a shock reality check. AAP had bet big on both Punjab and Goa, with Kejriwal and other leaders giving the impression that ruling Delhi was almost an afterthought compared to campaigning in Punjab.The campaign was also marked by constant infighting, local leaders who disagreed with Kejriwal and left, sex scandals and accusations of cash for votes. AAP also failed to bring former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu into the fold, who could’ve bolstered their attack. On the other hand, AAP also ended up giving the impression that they were an immature party and its constant state of agitation hardly suggested that they could a rule an important border state.The BJP didn’t go from two Lok Sabha seats in 1984 to 284 in 2014 overnight and the party put in a lot of work, aided by ground support from the RSS, to get here and AAP would do well to remember that you can’t launch a rocket from a pad that’s designed only for Zeppelins. There are no shortcuts to success and the presence in media channels with spokespersons isn’t a substitute for on-ground work. The Sidhu factorAAP missed a trick by failing to get Sidhu into the fold, and his arrival in Congress bolstered an already impressive campaign. While the former cricketer might be considered a comedian, who laughs at unfunny jokes on TV, in Punjab his influence is no laughing matter. During the campaign, he took great pleasure in using his considerable oratory skills to tickle the funny bone as he made jokes about the Badals and also Kejriwal who he likened to a cry baby with no solutions.Many experts had predicted that Sidhu’s entry would bolster the Congress and they turned out to be right.PM Modi non-factor One important aspect of the Punjab state elections compared to the rest of the states was that BJP didn’t contest separately, choosing to go with their alliance partners SAD despite the fact that they were facing massive incumbency. Perhaps it was an emotional choice, given the Badals have been together with the BJP for a long time, even when they weren’t a national force. They have also been sane alliance partners, unlike Shiv Sena, who constantly keep sniping and bickering. This meant that the Modi effect, which was a massive factor in other states, was missing in Punjab. Even though PM Modi came and made an appeal, citing OROP and other achievements, it was too late. Perhaps the BJP ought to have backed Sidhu and fought the elections on its own, but that’s only easy to say as an afterthought. As things stand now, Captain Amarinder Singh is ensuring that Congress-mukt Bharat is not a reality yet.

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From Captain’s roar to AAP’s failure: 5 reasons why Congress won in Punjab