Chandigarh: In the bypolls held in Punjab on October 21, the ruling Congress emerged to be victorious as the party won three seats -Jalalabad, Mukerian and Phagwara while the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could just get one seat.
In Dakha, Congress candidate Sandeep Sandhu, a confidant of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, lost to Akali Dal’s Manpreet Singh Ayali by 14,672 votes. The bypolls were needed in the constituency after the seat fell vacant following the resignation of former AAP leader and noted Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka from the state assembly.
Congress candidate Raminder Awla defeated SAD nominee Raj Singh Dibipura by a margin of 16,663 votes in Jalalabad, which is considered an Akali bastion. The seat was vacated by SAD President Sukhbir Badal.
Congress’ Indu Bala won from Mukerian by defeating BJP nominee Jangi Lal Mahajan by a margin of 3,440 votes. In Phagwara, Congress nominee Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal won over BJP nominee Rajesh Bagha by a comfortable margin of 26,116 votes.
BJP’s Som Parkash vacated the Phagwara seat, while Mukerian went to the polls following the demise of sitting Congress MLA Rajnish Babbi.
Following the results, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the Congress victory in the assembly bypolls and termed the SAD defeat in Jalalabad as the rejection of their “negative agenda”.
For the ruling Congress, the bypolls were considered to be a litmus test for Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-led government over the acceptability of its policies and programmes.
The four segments witnessed an overall turnout of 66.50 per cent. Highest polling was witnessed in Jalalabad at 75.46 per cent, followed by 71.64 per cent in Dakha and 58.62 per cent in Mukerian. Phagwara, a reserve seat recorded a turnout of 55.97 per cent.
Of the total 4 Assembly segments, while the SAD-BJP combine had bagged two in the last elections, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had won one each.
In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, the Congress at present has 77 legislators. The SAD has 13 MLAs while the strength of AAP legislators is 19. The BJP and the LIP have two MLAs each.