Despite the anti-incumbency sentiment, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal is extremely confident of an Akali-BJP victory as Punjab votes today. He said the margin will be even bigger than last time when the Akali-BJP combine had formed the government for the second time consecutively. For years, Punjab had alternated between the Akali Dal and the Congress. The Akalis in 2012 assembly elections had won 56 of state's 117 seats, and its ally the BJP had won 12, to form the government under Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
For the debutant, the Aam Aadmi Party, which had jolted Punjab politics by winning four seats in Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and had later wiped out the ruling Congress in 2015 Delhi assembly elections and reduced BJP to a mere three seats, Mr Badal said would be a distant third when the results are announced on March 11.
The SAD president Sukhbir Badal is fighting from Jalalabad and is challenged by comic-turned politician and AAP lawmaker Bhagwant Mann, who is among the frontrunners for chief minister's post if the party wins.
The elections in Punjab will also see a stiff battle in Lambi, the home turf of the Akalis and the seat of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, where he is challenged by Congress' chief ministerial candidate and state president Captain Amarinder Singh and AAP's Jarnail Singh.
Parkash Singh Badal, once the youngest Chief Minister of Punjab in 1970 at the age of 43, will retain the top spot if Akali-BJP government creates history with a third consecutive win. Congress' Captain Amarinder Singh who is taking on the Chief Minster has declared this to be his last elections.
Also in the fray is Sukhbir Badal's estranged cousin and an erstwhile minister in Akali government Manpreet Badal, who is now fighting on a Congress ticket. On the challenge from his own family member, Sukhbir Badal said he was sure to be defeated from Bhatinda.
Countering the anti-incumbency after two consecutive terms, the Akali Dal will be aided by the support of Sirsa's powerful sect Dera Sacha Sauda which has declared its support for the Akali-BJP combine.