A bewildering array of choices faces the voter in the upcoming Assembly elections in the sensitive border state of Punjab. The ruling Congress party, now in its second consecutive term in power, wears a splintered look with two-time poll winner Captain Amarinder Singh unceremoniously deposed at the behest of the mercurial Navjot Singh Sidhu, who now leads the state party unit. Factor in current incumbent Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab’s first Dalit chief minister, the Captain’s late tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has always been a junior partner in the state, former ally Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) now in a tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the farmer grouping of the Samyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) under Balbir Singh Rajewal, and you begin to get an inkling of how voters will be all at sea until it is time to actually punch the voting machine. Historically, Punjab has always tended to buck the trend of favourites and election forecasts. Throw in the recently called off farmer agitation on Delhi’s borders that was largely powered by Punjab’s agriculturists and the BJP’s strategic withdrawal on the emotive farm laws, a long and poor record of governance, crime, health, water and power issues and it appears a befuddling assortment that our cover story strives to unravel.