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Bittu helps Congress save face

Ravneet Singh Bittu of Congress pocketed 3,00,459 votes, thereby becoming one of the three Congress candidates from Punjab to win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

punjab Updated: May 16, 2014 23:27 IST
Anshu Seth

Ravneet Singh Bittu of Congress pocketed 3,00,459 votes, thereby becoming one of the three Congress candidates from Punjab to win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

He defeated his closest rival Harvinder Singh Phoolka of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by a margin of 19,709 votes.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali came third with 2,56,590 votes, and independent candidate Simarjit Singh Bains bagged 2,10,917 votes.

Despite a close contest, Bittu left behind Phoolka owing to his good margins in city constituencies, as he had an edge of over 21,000 votes from Ludhiana East constituency where Phoolka could manage only 17,105 votes. In Ludhiana North also, Bittu bagged 47,179 votes followed by 22,984 to Phoolka.

Unleashing their joy over the win of their preferred candidate, the supporters of Congress party gathered at the party office and raised slogans in favour of the candidate as they marched to the counting centre at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to collect the winning certificate.

It was a close contest at the Ludhiana seat as in addition to the winning candidate, each one of the remaining three prominent candidates managed to cross the 2-lakh mark. The total votes polled were 10,48,716.

Anti-incumbency against SAD played an elemental role in deciding the fate of AAP and Congress candidates at the Ludhiana seat, which unlike other seats had a four-cornered contest.

In the midst of distribution of sweets and beating of dhols, the party workers and volunteers danced exuberantly as they took out a procession of their winning candidate. In a thanksgiving gesture to acknowledge the mandate of the electorate, the workers and volunteers also bowed before the public with folded hands.

At the same time, the SAD-BJP alliance was in a dillema whether to celebrate the victory of BJP at the centre or to feel sorry for having lost the Ludhiana seat. Finding Narendra Modi's victory a bigger reason for celebration, the BJP workers chose not to sulk over Ayali's defeat and celebrated the party's victory at national level.

Keeping up with their positive attitude, the AAP volunteers stood at various city intersections with placards saying "thank you" for the support.

There was a surprising trend in Dakha and Jagraon, the rural assembly segments, which were considered to be the strong points of SAD, as the major vote share was polled in favour of AAP candidate HS Phoolka. It was the resentment against the ruling regime in villages that sealed the fate of SAD candidate Ayali.

Ayali is the sitting MLA from Dakha constituency but he failed to get lead even from there, and could manage to bag 40,736 votes against 46,518 votes polled in favour of Phoolka, 29,893 votes polled for Congress candidate Ravneet Bittu, followed by 10,637 votes for independent candidate Simarjit Singh Bains.

Similarly, Phoolka had highest scorer in Jagraon with 62,359 votes, followed by Ayali who got 26,303 votes.