The Congress party on Sunday wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha (LS) seat in Punjab
from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alliance. Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar
defeated the BJP’s candidate by a victory margin of 1,93,219 votes. The Congress had won the Assembly polls in March to end the 10-year BJP-SAD rule in the state. With the win in Gurdaspur, the Congress tally has now increased to 46 in the LS.
In an Assembly bypoll in Kerala’s Vengara, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) candidate retained the seat. The IUML is a key partner of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, or UDF.
is the main Opposition to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front.
IUML’s K N A Khader polled 65,227 votes, defeating his nearest rival, CPI (M)’s P P Basheer, by 23,310 votes. The seat is an IUML stronghold. The BJP candidate came in fourth, polling 5,728 votes.
The Gurdaspur LS bypoll result was interpreted as the continued decline of the BJP-SAD in Punjab, after it had lost the Assembly election in March this year. The bypoll was necessitated after sitting member Vinod Khanna from the BJP passed away in April this year. With the exception of 2009, Khanna had represented the seat consecutively since 1998. He won in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014.
Congress candidate Jakhar polled 499,752 votes. His BJP rival, Swaran Salaria, polled 306,533. Aam Aadmi Party nominee Suresh Khajuria was at the third spot with 23,579 votes. The bypoll saw a significant decline in AAP’s vote share. Its candidate had received 1,73,376 votes in the 2014 LS that Khanna had won.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the Congress win showed that people of the state have completely denounced the corrupt and immoral BJP and SAD. “For AAP, this election marks the end of its political ambitions in Punjab,” he said. With 20 seats, the AAP is the main Opposition party in the Punjab
Legislative Assembly. In the Congress, the win was seen as a precursor to happier tidings with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on the verge of taking over as the party chief in the coming weeks, and the party putting up a good fight in Gujarat.
LS bypolls are scheduled also to be held for the following seats — Rajasthan's Alwar and Ajmer, Phulpur and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Uluberia in West Bengal and Araria in Bihar.