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Akalis break the Punjab elections jinx by returning to power

Chandigarh: For the first time in the last forty years, Punjab has given a second consecutive term to a party in power. The alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP will return to office with 68 of the 117 seats. The Congress, which had hoped that the anti-incumbency habit in the state would push it into government, was left with 46 seats.

Parkash Singh Badal, who will continue as chief minister, celebrated with a ride in an open jeep for 30 minutes, making his way through Badal, his native village. Mr Badal, who is 84, will begin his fifth term as head of the Punjab government.

He said he owes today to his 50-year-old son, Sukhbir, who was made party president in 2008 and deputy chief minister in 2009. That appointment left the Badals wide open to allegations of nepotism. It wasn’t just outsiders who took aim. The chief minister’s nephew, Manpreet, who was Finance Minister, gathered his supporters and quit the Akali Dal. He set up the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP); the party today failed to win a single seat, and Manpreet lost both the constituencies he contested, one of which he has won four times in the past. “Manpreet has committed a Himalayan blunder and political suicide,” said his estranged uncle today. Manpreet’s father, Gurudas, lost his deposit in his election.

The Akalis’ victory is being attributed to the party’s focus on development. The BJP has done worse in these elections than last time – it has got 12 seats. But the Akalis say this does not make their partner a liability. “Last time, they won 19 of the 23 seats they were assigned,” said Naresh Gujral, Rajya Sabha MP. “They could not have repeated that performance.”

The Badals’ appeal was also undented by the influential religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda lending its support to the Congress.

The Congress candidate for chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, had this morning predicted his party would defeat the Akalis. He won his seat, but his son, Raninder Singh, lost his constituency.

News Source: NDTV

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