Chandigarh, Oct 12 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today alleged that the low turnout in the Gurdaspur parliamentary bypoll was a “direct result of the planned intimidation of SAD-BJP workers by the Congress government”.

However, he lauded voters for participating in the democratic process.

The high-stakes Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll had recorded a 56 per cent voter turnout yesterday, lower than 70.03 per cent recorded in the 2014 general elections.

“All our apprehensions have come true”, said former minister and party spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema in a statement here.

“We have been claiming that the government has enlisted the civil and police machinery to threaten and coerce Akali – BJP panches, sarpanches and municipal councillors not to participate in the election process.

“This has been proven by the low turnout on polling day despite the deep sense of disenchantment and anger against the ruling Congress government for reneging on all its poll promises including loan waiver and jobs for all,” he alleged.

Cheema said even on polling day Akali-BJP sympathisers were allegedly threatened in villages and warned with dire consequences if they stepped out of their houses.

“Those who did not heed the warnings like former Pahra village sarpanch Happy Pahra in Gurdaspur assembly segment were attacked and seriously injured. SAD polling agents were roughed up at other places to create a fear psychosis amongst the people and keep our supporters out of the polling booths”, he added.

Claiming that the poll percentage would have even crossed the 80 per cent mark if not for apprehension of violence which kept a large number of people away from the booths, the Akali leader said the same seat recorded a voting percentage of 70 per cent in the last general elections.

“There is no other reason for the law voting percentage of 56 per cent in this by poll,” he added.PTI CHS RCJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.