Akalis see comeback in Ayali’s Dakha victory
CHANDIGARH The defeat of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Jalalabad assembly constituency, the pocket borough of its president Sukhbir Singh Badal, came as a big jolt to the party.
Congress’ moneybag Raminder Awla defeated SAD’s greenhorn Raj Singh Dibbipur in Jalalabad with a margin of 16,633. Sukhbir had won this seat in 2009, 2012 and 2017 and it fell vacant after he got elected to the Lok Sabha in May elections.
However, Akali nominee Manpreet Singh Ayali’s surprise victory in Dakha proved a morale booster for the SAD, which was struggling to emerge out of the ebb it had touched after a series of sacrilege incidents in 2015 during the Akali-BJP regime.
Ayali defeated Congress’ Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu, former political secretary of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who failed to win despite the reports that the might of the dispensation stood by him. The Dakha seat got vacated following the resignation of Aam Aadmi Party MLA HS Phoolka.
“Dakha is a massive victory for us. Despite a perception that our party is passing through a crisis, we won this Panthic seat,” said SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema.
Speaking on the loss in Jalalabad, Cheema said, “Things become tough when you are not in the government. Awla spent crores of rupees to woo the voters and our party decided to conserve resources.”
He added, “Our party has won one of the two seats it contested in the bypolls. It’s not a bad score.”
However, SAD cannot take the defeat in Jalalabad lightly as it means a loss of face for Sukhbir, especially as he had carried out huge development works in the constituency he represented as deputy CM.
SAD’s victory in Dakha, traditionally a Panthic seat, is being seen as party’s comeback in the Panthic constituency which was seen as moving out of Akalis’ grip.
In Dakha, the skills of former minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who was party’s in-charge in the constituency, were put to test. He complemented Ayali’s political acumen and grip over the constituency. Ayali, who has been elected to the assembly for the second time, won the seat with a margin of 14,672 votes.
BLURB The defeat in Jalalabad, Sukhbir’s pocket borough, a big jolt for SAD