In a second setback within three months after the Lok Sabha poll debacle, the Shiromani Akali Dal won only in 11 out of the total 170 polling stations in the Patiala Urban bypoll, losing to the Congress with a wide margin in the others.
The SAD, which was banking on a combination of young and seasoned leaders including mayor Amarinder Bajaj, former mayors Ajitpal Singh Kohli and Jaspal Pradhan, BJP state president Anil Bajaj and senior deputy mayor Jagdish Rai Chaudhary, faced a drubbing as the party failed to secure a win even from wards of these councillors.
Though the Panthic party managed to increase its vote share at Patiala, a Congress stronghold, to 33% compared to the 16% polled during the 2014 general elections, it did not win a single ward under the municipal corporation limits. As per available information, out of Patiala Urban’s 29 wards, SAD councillors represent 25 of them while the Congress represents the remaining.
Akali-BJP fails to secure 1,000 votes
At the ward of mayor Amarinder Bajaj, who has been facing the public’s ire for an agenda lacking in development, Akali-BJP candidate Bhagwan Dass Juneja did not even secure 1,000 votes. While the SAD candidate lost in six booths falling in his ward, he polled only 805 votes from Bajaj’s ward while the Congress secured 1,458 votes there.
Similarly, at former mayor Ajitpal Kohli’s ward Juneja managed to secure only 1,141 votes for SAD. However, Preneet got 1,948 votes from Kohli’s ward where the Akalis did not win even from a single booth.
Interstingly, Kohli’s father former cabinet minister Surjit Singh Kohli had also contested unsuccessfully against Captain Amarinder Singh in the 2012 state election.Juneja got only 958 votes from former mayor Jaspal Pradhan’s ward while Preneet registered 1,354 votes there.
SAD Hindu card fails to work
The SAD’s strategy of fielding Hindu candidate Juneja did not reap benefits as he got only 998 votes from BJP state president Anil Bajaj’s ward (number 36) which has the maximum population of Hindus in the constituency. In contrast, the Congress candidate got 2,409 votes.
Even at senior deputy mayor Jagdish Rai Chaudhary’s ward, Juneja managed to secure only 992 votes while Preneet got 2,137 votes. The situation was similar at former mayor Vishnu Sharma’s ward too. A Hindu leader, Sharma had defected from the Congress to the SAD before the Lok Sabha polls.However SAD district unit president Indermohan Singh Bajaj, father of mayor Amarinder Bajaj, dismissed that the party had performed poorly in Patiala by saying that they had managed to increase their vote share by 17% within three months.