The Congress registered a massive victory in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by-polls, as party candidate Sunil Jakhar won by a margin of 1,93,219 votes. The six-month-old government of Congress passed a litmus test by winning the election by such a huge margin.
“Today, even the traditional vote-bank of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also left it. They either didn’t turn up to vote or voted for the Congress,” the winning candidate, Jakhar, told reporters. Jakhar assured that he would raise the issues plaguing the farmers and the poor in the parliament.
While the Congress garnered 4,99,752 votes, the BJP was relegated to 3,06,533 votes. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) fared even worse as it amassed a mere 23,579 votes. Meanwhile, the Minister of Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Archives and Museums in the Punjab Goverment, Navjot Singh Sidhu dubbed the win as ‘the resurrection and renaissance of the Congress’. “The Congress’ victory will echo like a slap across the whole of India, for the resurrection and renaissance of the Congress,” Sidhu said.
Reiterating the point he made during the counting of votes, Sidhu said the Congress’ win would be a Diwali gift for party’s “would-be president” Rahul Gadhi, and that the BJP would be forced to reconsider Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as their alliance partner. “The most important point is that ‘BJP chinta chahe na kare lekin chintan zaroor karegi’ (Even if the BJP does not worry about this, it will surely contemplate) that the Akali Dal which they considered an alliance partner has turned out to be the biggest burden on them,” Sidhu told the reporters. “Diwali ke pataakhey toh teen din baad phatenge, par Gurdaspur ke pataakhon ki goonj aaj poora Hindustan sunega (the crackers of Diwali will be burst after three days, but the crackers of Gurdaspur will resound across the nation today only),” Sidhu added.
Sidhu further added that the victory would be a “morale-booster” for the party, ahead of Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, scheduled to be held on November 9. The Congress had fielded veteran leader Sunil Jakhar to contest the by-elections against the BJP-SAD alliance candidate, businessman Swaran Salaria and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate, Retired Major General Suresh Khajuria.
The Gurdaspur parliamentary seat has nine assembly segments — Bhoa, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Dinanagar, Qadian, Fathegarh Churian, Dera Baba Nanak, Sujanpur, and Batala. The Lok Sabha by-elections held on October 11 were necessitated after the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant following the death of BJP MP Vinod Khanna. Khanna represented the constituency from 1998 to 2004, and later from 2004 until his death in April this year.