Gurdaspur bypolls: Congress candidate wins by over 1.9 lakh votes
The Congress has won massively in Punjab's Gurdaspur, traditionally a BJP stronghold, where votes of bypolls were being counted today. Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar has reportedly won by over 1,90,000 votes. It is being seen as a measure of the popularity of the new Congress government, which took over from the previous SAD-BJP administration in March.
Gurdaspur's seat fell vacant after the death of actor-turned-BJP-politician Vinod Khanna in April. It has nine assembly segments - Batala, Bhoa, Dinanagar, Dera Baba Nanak, Fathegarh Churian, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Qadian and Sujanpur. This time it saw a three-cornered fight between the Congress, BJP and AAP. A 56% voter turnout was recorded during polling on October 11; in the 2014 LS elections, it was 70.03%.
For Congress, it is a thumbs-up after six months of forming the government in Punjab. BJP tried hard to retain the seat that Khanna won four times. A win would have boosted it which bagged just one segment of Sujanpur out of four seats it contested in March. If AAP had won, it would have strengthened its current 20-member hold in the Assembly.
Experts have attributed the fall in BJP's vote-share to recent charges against SAD leader Sucha Singh Langah, who allegedly raped a woman constable for a decade. Langah was the 'halqa-in-charge' in Dera Baba Nanak for 10 years. The episode dented the Jat Sikh votes which traditionally went to BJP. Moreover, dissatisfaction with GST seems to have affected the trading towns of Batala and Pathankot.