Three months after the Aam Aadmi Party changed the bipolar history of Punjab politics, it is back to status quo. Both the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal clinched one seat each and stood second on the other. Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which had won four out of 13 parliamentary seats in Punjab, lost its security deposit in both the seats despite Kejriwal campaigning at both places.
Defeated by AAP candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi in the recent parliamentary elections, three-time Patiala MP and former union minister Preneet Kaur retained the family bastion of Patiala urban which had fallen vacant after her husband Capt Amarinder Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha.
AAP candidate Harjit Singh Adaltiwala lost his security deposit and polled just 6% votes (5,724) while SAD doubled its vote share in three months since the Lok Sabha elections from 16% to 33% and stood second.
Though the Patiala bypoll result has once again underscored the invincibility of the erstwhile royal family, both the victory margin of Preneet and her vote share have gone several notches below that of husband Amarinder. In the 2012 assembly polls, Amarinder had secured 69% vote share and won the seat by 42,000 votes.
The Congress vote share has fallen by a sharp 10% and gone to the SAD kitty, mainly on account of the party this time fielding a Hindu, Bhagwan Dass Juneja, in the predominantly Hindu constituency. Preneet’s victory margin (23,282) is also short of Amarinder’s by over 18,700 votes. Preneet had also led from Patiala urban during the recent Lok Sabha elections.
SAD wins Talwandi Sabo after 1985
Though the Talwandi Sabo assembly constituency falls in the Badal bastion of Bathinda, the ruling Akali Dal has been able to reclaim it after 19 years. Interestingly, the last time the SAD won the seat was in 1985 with Capt Amarinder Singh as its candidate. The constituency had since elected a Congress MLA and an independent until SAD president Sukhbir Badal engineered defection of Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, Amarinder’s one-time blue-eyed boy who had fallen out with him in the last few years.
Sidhu won the seat with his biggest ever margin so far – 46,000 votes – bettering his 2012 win on a Congress ticket and avenged his defeat against long-time rival Harminder Sidhu, a former Congress MLA related to powerful Sirsa-based sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Though it did not fare well at Talwandi Sabo even during the recent LS polls, AAP is down by 2,000 votes. Its candidate Baljinder Kaur, a young professor with radical roots, lost her security deposit despite polling 13,899 votes. She had replaced AAP’s earlier candidate Balkar Sidhu, who contested as an independent and polled 6,305 votes.