Of 17 Punjab assembly bypolls since 1994, ruling party won 13
Both the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are leaving no stone unturned to secure victorypunjab Updated: May 28, 2018 21:26 IST
As both the ruling Congress and opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are leaving no stone unturned to secure victory in the Shahkot bypoll scheduled on Monday, the voting trend in the past two-and-a-half decades suggests that the electorate preferred the party in power most of the times in the state byelections.
Punjab has witnessed 17 assembly bypolls since 1994 and barring just four times, the ruling party of the day won by pumping in resources and deputing its ministers and MLAs to influence the voters.
The first shocker that the ruling party received in the form of defeat in the bypoll was in 1994 in the Ajnala segment during late chief minister Beant Singh’s tenure. The ruling Congress faced humiliating defeat at the hands of Akali-supported independent candidate Ratan Singh Ajnala.
The seat had fallen vacant after the death of Vidhan Sabha speaker Harcharan Singh Ajnala. The Congress gave ticket to Rajbir Singh, Haracharan’s elder son and brother of present MLA from the segment Harpartap Singh Ajnala, who got defeated by a margin of 10,314 votes.
In 1995, the then ruling Congress (led by Beant Singh) faced another jolt when present finance minister Manpreet Badal was fielded as a SAD candidate from Gidderbaha and he defeated its nominee Deepak Kumar by a margin of 2,115 votes.
The seat had fallen vacant due to the death of Congress MLA Raghubir Singh. Political experts say this was one of the closely-fought battles in Punjab’s electoral history.
In 1998, the Adampur byelection shocked Parkash Singh Badal-led government when the opposition Congress candidate Kanwaljit Singh Lally defeated the ruling combine’s Sarabjit Singh Makkar by a margin of only 5 votes. The Congress’ charge at that time was led by present chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who few months before this bypoll was appointed the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president.
Then the death of SAD MLA Sarup Singh had necessitated the byelection. In this tenure of Badal, SAD won all other bypolls in Sham Chaurasi, Nawanshahr, Kathun Nangal (now Majitha) and Sunam.
In 2005, two bypolls were held in Ajnala and Kapurthala with the sitting MLAs — SAD’s Ratan Singh Ajnala and Congress’s Rana Gurjit Singh — getting elected as MPs from Khadoor Sahib and Jalandhar respectively. The ruling Congress won from both segments.
The SAD-BJP’s tenure between 2007 and12 witnessed only one bypoll from the Qadian seat in Gurdaspur and this was won by the ruling combine. The seat had got vacant after sitting MLA Partap Singh Bajwa was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009.
In SAD-BJP’s second consecutive tenure in 2012-2017, six bypolls were held for Dasuya, Moga, Talwandi Sabo, Patiala, Dhuri and Khadoor Sahib. In the Patiala segment, the opposition Congress candidate Preneet Kaur won by a margin of 23, 282 votes. Amarinder had vacated the seat to contest from the Amritsar Lok Sabha segment in 2014.
How govt gets advantage
Ever since the Election Commission declared Shahkot bypoll dates 20 days back, nearly all Punjab ministers and Congress MLAs shifted their base to the constituency. They are camping in the villages of the segment trying to solve the routine problems of the voters and promising development works.
Just ahead of the poll announcement, the Congress government had announced development works worth ₹114 crore.
“The SAD bypoll model is more aggressive. Just ahead of the bypolls, the then CM Parkash Singh Badal used to hold sangat darshans for days and visit villages with all state machinery to impress the voters,” said a political expert.
- 1994 (Ajnala): Opposition SAD supported candidate Ratan Singh defeated Rajbir of ruling Congress by 10,314 votes
- 1995 (Gidderbaha): Opposition SAD’s Manpreet Badal defeated ruling Congress’s Deepak Kumar by 2115 votes
- 1999 (Adampur): Opposition Congress’s Kanwaljit Singh Lally defeated ruling SAD-BJP candidate Sarabjit Singh Makkar by a margin of 5 votes
- 2015 (Patiala): Opposition Congress’ Preneet Kaur won by a margin of 23, 282 votes