Their inability to forge an alliance in Punjab cost both the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) dear in the Lok Sabha elections, with the former drawing a blank and the SAD managing to win only one seat in the multi-cornered contests.

Of the state’s 13 parliamentary constituencies, the Congress finished on top winning 7 seats, while the ruling AAP got just three seats with the remaining two bagged by the Independent candidates.

This was the first time since 1998 that the BJP fought the Lok Sabha elections without its oldest ally SAD, which broke up with it in 2020 over the farmers’ movement against the now-repealed three central farm laws.

In the 2019 polls, when the BJP and the SAD contested together, they had won two seats each, with the Congress and the AAP winning eight and one respectively.

In the run-up to the current Lok Sabha polls, the SAD and the BJP had been in talks to restitch their alliance, which however could not fructify with the farmers’ continuing agitation casting a shadow over it.

Festive offer

The outcome of the polls prompted talks that if the estranged NDA allies had joined hands, they could have put up a better show.

Despite facing farmers’ protests in rural belts, the BJP was able to double its vote share, from 9.63% in the 2019 polls to 18.56% now. On the other hand, the SAD’s vote share, which was 27.45% in 2019, plummeted to 13.42%.

In 2019, their combined vote share was 37.08% as against the Congress’s 40.12% and the AAP’s 7.38%.

This time, the combined votes of both the BJP and the SAD stand at 31.98% of the votes polled. This is more than the individual vote share of both the Congress at 26.30% and the AAP at 26.02%.

Although the Congress and the AAP are both part of the Opposition INDIA alliance at the national level and fought the Lok Sabha polls together in states like Delhi, Haryana and Gujarat, they took on each other in Punjab.

The BJP’s vote base is mainly concentrated in urban areas in the state while the SAD’s support base is spread across its rural belts. These used to complement for the two parties when they used to contest as an alliance. While the BJP always fought from three seats — Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar — ​​the SAD traditionally contested the remaining 10 seats. The break-down of their alliance talks occurred after the SAD rejected the BJP’s demand for five seats, sources said.

The farm stir dealt a blow to the BJP, which could not hold on to even its known strongholds like Gurdaspur or Hoshiarpur.

However, a clear silver lining for the BJP was that it performed far better than the Akali Dal in terms of vote share. One key reason for the increase in the BJP’s vote share was the fact that the party contested all 13 seats in the state on its own.

The BJP finished runner-ups in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur, losing to the Congress. The BJP candidates were at number three position out of six

constituencies including Fatehgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Ferozepur, Patiala, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar. The SAD candidates were behind them in all these nine constituencies.

In the 2022 Assembly polls swept by the AAP with 92 seats out of 117, the SAD and the BJP had fought separately, getting three and two seats respectively with the then incumbent Congress winning 18 seats. The BJP’s vote share then was just 6.6%, which has now risen to 18.56%. In contrast, the SAD’s vote share has now dropped to 13.42% from 18.38% in 2022.

This time, the BJP got a lead over all its rivals in 24 Assembly segments – in Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Patiala and Bathinda parliamentary constituencies – despite its failure to eventually win any constituency.

The Akali Dal posted leads in nine Assembly segments in Amritsar, Bathinda and Ferozepur constituencies, going on to win one seat, Bathinda, which was retained by incumbent MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of SAD chief Sukhbir Badal.

In Amritsar, the BJP’s Taranjit Singh Sandhu Samundri came at number three position while SAD candidate Anil Joshi came fourth. The seat was won by the Congress’s Gurjeet Singh Aujla, who defeated the AAP’s Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal.

In Patiala, the incumbent MP and BJP candidate Preneet Kaur finished at third position, with SAD face NK Sharma coming fourth. The constituency was won by Congress’s Dharamvira Gandhi, with AAP’s Balbir Singh ending up as the runner-up.

In Sangrur, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s home turf, the AAP’s Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer won by trouncing the Congress’s Sukhpal Singh Khaira. While the BJP’s Arvind Khanna came at number four position, the SAD’s Iqbal Singh Jhundan lost his security deposit finishing at number five.

In Anandpur Sahib, AAP’s Malwinder Singh Kang defeated Congress’s Vijay Inder Singla while BJP’s Subash Sharma came third. Senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra finished at fourth position.

State BJP president Sunil Jakhar said, “Though we got a good vote share, we could not win seats and we need to introspect over it.” He also said, “No doubt this is a road map for 2027 (Assembly polls) but just winning elections is not our target. Maintaining peace and communal harmony is our top priority.”