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Gurdaspur by-election: Big win for Congress, Sidhu says innings defeat for SAD-BJP

The seat had fallen vacant due to the death of BJP’s Vinod Khanna, who contested five Lok Sabha elections from Gurdaspur and won four of them, in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014

india Updated: Oct 16, 2017 07:58 IST
Kamaljit Singh Kamal
Kamaljit Singh Kamal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
urdaspur counting,gurdaspur election,Gurdaspur bypoll
Congress candidate and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Jakhar and Punjab local codies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu perform bhangra after his victory in Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll on October 15, 2017.(HT Photo)

The Congress candidate bagged the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha election by a massive margin of 1.9 lakh votes, and the party immediately launched a blistering attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Punjab ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar, the party’s state president, beat his nearest rival, BJP nominee Swaran Salaria, by 1,93,219 votes. Jakhar polled 4,99,752 votes while Salaria got 3,06,533, an election official said.

Aam Aadmi Party nominee Major General (Retd) Suresh Khajuria was at the third sport with 23,579 votes.

The seat had fallen vacant due to the death of BJP’s Vinod Khanna, who contested five Lok Sabha elections from Gurdaspur and won four of them, in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014.

“This win is a big slap on the face of jija- sala (Sukhbir Badal-Bikram Majithia). Today, the BJP will feel that the Akali Dal in Punjab, especially the jija-sala, have become a burden,” said Navjot Singh Sidhu, who switched to the Congress last year after being an MP with the BJP.

“Time and again people have reprimanded them and sent them back,” he said, adding the Akalis were like an albatross around the BJP’s neck.

“This win is not small, this is huge. When a (cricket) team loses by five runs or by a narrow margin, it still stands up to put a fight in another contest. But when somebody loses by 400 runs or suffers an innings defeat, it breaks the back. It is an innings defeat for them (SAD-BJP combine). It is a demoralising defeat for them, it has sent them packing,” he said.

Chief minister Amarinder Singh said the results marked an important step in the revival of the Congress, which was routed by the BJP nationally in the 2014 elections.

“The massive win for Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar shows the people’s complete denunciation of the corrupt and immoral BJP and SAD,” the chief minister said, adding that it also underlines the “political annihilation” of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state.

“Jakhar’s victory comes as a strong rebuttal to the persistent Akali efforts and campaign of the past six months to undermine the work being done by his government in the state,” he added.

Jakhar, the winner, said, “the BJP must read the writing on the wall now”.

“People have rejected the BJP and also shown mirror to (their ally) the Akalis”.

Sunday’s result comes weeks months before crucial elections in Gujarat – the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and Himachal Pradesh, one of the few regions still under Congress control.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 12:55 IST