Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, a cardiologist, pulled off a stunning upset when he defeated three-time Congress MP and minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur, whom the Akalis had failed to beat in the past three Lok Sabha elections.
Preneet's defeat was so shocking that the royal family's Moti Bagh Palace didn't even celebrate the victory of her husband Capt Amarinder Singh, who trounced BJP heavyweight Arun Jaitley from Amritsar. The media was debarred from entering the royal palace after the MP's loss.
"I humbly accept the verdict of the public. I will continue my social and political service for the people," Preneet said. In the past three elections, she had beaten Akali stalwarts such as Prem Singh Chandumajra, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Capt Kanwaljit Singh. This time, the Akali candidate, Deepinder Dhillon, finished third.
The Maharani of erstwhile Patiala estate was humbled by a margin of around 21,000 votes by Dr Gandhi, who not only got votes in urban areas but also dominated in rural constituencies.
The SAD fared very badly in urban areas and even failed to match the number of votes won by party candidate Surjit Singh Kohli in the 2012 assembly polls (the figure dropped from nearly 24,000 votes to 16,342 in the Patiala Urban segment).
The AAP candidate not only thrived on the anti-incumbency against the Congress-led UPA government and the Shiromani Akali Dal-led state government but also benefited from his clean image and the social work rendered by him as a doctor over the past 32 years in Patiala in general and Malwa in particular.
Ironically, Preneet fails to register a huge lead from Patiala urban areas, from where she had led by about 70,000 votes in the 2009 polls. The Congress managed a lead of nearly 8,000 from Patiala Urban, but trailed by nearly 12,000 votes from Patiala Rural segment.
"It's a vote against capitalism and inefficient political leaders who failed to connect with the public. I am humbled by the mandate of the public and will strive hard to meet all expectations," said Dr Gandhi, who kept examining patients on the way during his campaign trail. "My social and medical services will always be available for the needy," he added.