Chandigarh, Jan 1 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday hailed the victory of Congress-backed candidates in the recently concluded panchayat polls in the state as a triumph of democracy and a clear vindication of his government’s policies.

He also congratulated the people of Punjab for ensuring a largely peaceful poll, in which 80.38 per cent of the total 12,787,395 eligible voters exercised their franchise.

Of the 13,276 booths in which polling was held, repoll has been ordered in 14, Singh said in a statement here, lauding the security forces for maintaining law and order during the elections “despite attempts by the opposition to trigger trouble”.

“Undeterred by the false propaganda unleashed by the opposition parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), against the Congress government, the voters came out in large numbers without fear to cast their votes in favour of my party’s candidates,” he said.

“This shows that the disillusionment of the electorate with the SAD and other opposition parties, including the BJP and AAP, is complete,” the chief minister said, adding the people of Punjab were no longer willing to be misled by the “canards” being spread by these parties.

“The victory of Congress-backed candidates is a triumph of democracy and a clear vindication of my government’s policies,” he said.

Of the 13,175 sarpanches elected so far, 11,241 belong to the Congress, while the SAD and the BJP-backs candidates accounted for only 981 and 100 respectively. Other parties and independents accounted for 813 of the elected sarpanches, the chief minister stated.

The panchayat polls in the state were, however, not contested on party symbols.

The wave in favour of the Congress, which started in Punjab with the Assembly polls held in 2017 and was manifest in the recent elections in various states across the country, was evidently going strong till the lowest rung of the democratic ladder, the Punjab chief minister said.

The panchayat polls indicated the palpable pro-Congress mood in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Singh said and exuded confidence that his party would win the 2019 parliamentary polls hands down.

The people of Punjab has seen the development and progress of the last 21 months, since the Congress came to power, “as against the utter ruination into which the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime had plunged the state during the 10 years of their misrule”, he claimed.

“The negative campaigning of the opposition, which was clearly bereft of any positive agenda, had also contributed to the Congress victory in the panchayat elections, and would continue to stand the party in good stead in the Lok Sabha polls,” Singh said.

“The AAP has suffered another ignominious electoral defeat, indicating that it had become completely irrelevant and was a non-entity in Punjab,” the chief minister said.

With stray incidents of violence reported during the Punjab panchayat polls held on Sunday, the opposition SAD has alleged that the election was “completely hijacked” by the ruling Congress.

“The Congress is now afraid to face people. They know they have done nothing. That is why the party indulged in large-scale violence and rigging in panchayat election. Black day for democracy,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had said earlier.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.