The Congress’s return to power in Punjab is marked by its second best performance in the assembly polls ever since the reorganisation of the state in 1966 when Haryana was carved out. The party has won 77 seats in the 117 member state assembly after projecting Amarinder Singh as its chief ministerial nominee, only one short of 78 – figure required for a two third majority. The party’s best ever performance was in 1992 when it won 87 seats in the elections which were boycotted by the main Akali Dal in the wake of threats from Khalistani elements.
The opponents of the elections then called for the boycott saying the Centre had failed to take steps to meet long-standing Sikh demands, including the release of detainees, greater political and economic autonomy and more water to irrigate its drought-prone regions.
The 1992 elections were held amidst a huge deployment of security personnel, and the Punjab police.
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Incidentally a splinter Akali group led by Amarinder Singh had contested the 1992 elections fielding 38 candidates, of which only three could win.
The three included Singh who was declared elected “uncontested” from the Samana assembly constituency in Patiala district.
The three other 60 plus seats performances of the Congress have been in 1972 (66), 1980 (63) and 2002 (62) – when also Amarinder became the Chief Minister of Punjab.
Vote wise the best performance of Congress was in 1980 when it got 45.19 per cent vote share, followed by 43.83 per cent in 1992, 42.84 per cent in 1972, 40.90 per cent in 2007 and 40.09 per cent in 2012.
Its worst performance was in 1997 when it got a vote share of 26.38 per cent.
The Congress won 77 seats followed by new entrant AAP (20), SAD (15), BJP (3) and Lok Insaaf Party, a pre-poll ally of AAP got two seats.