Punjab by-polls: Congress shows dominance, wins 3 out of 4 seats

While the Congress candidates registered their win in Jalalabad, Phagwara and Mukerian seats, the Shiromani Akali Dal won Dakha seat; SAD had called these by-polls as ‘referendum’

Punjab by-polls: Congress shows dominance, wins 3 out of 4 seats
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Bipin Bhardwaj

The Congress won three Assembly seats, while the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could won one in the Punjab byelections, the results of which were announced on Thursday. While the Congress candidates registered their win in Jalalabad, Phagwara and Mukerian seats, the SAD candidate captured Dakha seat.

In Jalalabad Congress’s Raminder Awla defeated SAD’s Raj Singh Dibipura by a margin of 16,633 votes. Jalalabad was considered to be SAD’s stronghold as the party had represented the seat in the Assembly since 2007.

The seat fell vacant after the sitting MLA, Sukhbir Singh Badal, was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Ferozepur parliamentary segment in the general election 2019.

Congress candidate and former IAS officer Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal defeated Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajesh Bagha by a margin of 26,116 votes in Phagwara.

The Phagwara seat fell vacant after BJP’s Som Parkash, who had won it in the 2017 Assembly polls, was elected to the Lok Sabha this year.

In a blow to the ruling party, SAD’s Manpreet Singh Ayali defeated Congress nominee Sandeep Singh Sandhu by a margin of 14,672 votes in Dakha. The seat fell vacant following the resignation of former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka from the state Assembly.

Congress’s Indu Bala won from Mukerian by defeating BJP’s Jangi Lal Mahajan by a margin of 3,440 votes. The seat fell vacant following the death of Congress MLA Rajnish Kumar Babbi. Indu Bala is Babbi’s widow.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has hailed the Congress victory in the bypolls, particularly in Sukhbir Badal’s self-proclaimed stronghold of Jalalabad, as a total rejection of the negative agenda of the Akalis, who continued to indulge in petty politicking in the wild hope of regaining the confidence of the people.

The ‘referendum’, as the Akalis had been so keen to dub these by-elections, was clearly not in their favour, and the people of Punjab had once again denounced SAD’s unconstructive policies for his government’s development programmes, said the Chief Minister.

Though he had personally not looked at these polls as a referendum on his regime, which had already fulfilled the bulk of its promises to the people at the half-way mark of its term, Punjab had shown what they wanted from their government, Amarinder Singh asserted.

If the Akalis looked at it as a referendum, then they have got their answer from the people, he added.

These polls, said the Chief Minister, had once again exposed the hollowness of the claims of the Akalis, particularly the Badals, that they had the support of the people.

The Akalis clearly failed to learnt a lesson from their previous electoral defeats and continued to engage in negative campaigning, including politicisation of religion, he said, adding that the people of Punjab had made it clear that there was no place in the state for parties that do not think and work for their welfare.

After the sufferings perpetrated on them by SAD-BJP for 10 years, the people of Punjab want to look forward, towards an era of growth, and have categorically rejected the divisive and regressive policies of the Opposition, said Amarinder Singh.

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