Big setback for AAP in Punjab as party loses Sangrur seat held by Bhagwant Mann earlier
The Aam Aadmi Party faced a huge defeat in the Punjab by-elections on Sunday with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann defeating the ruling party’s candidate in Sangrur.
Sangrur Lok Sabha seat was held last by chief minister Bhagwant Mann. The by-poll was necessitated due to the resignation of Bhagwant Mann from the seat after he was elected as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year.
Simranjit Singh Mann beat his AAP rival Gurmail Singh by a margin of over 5,800 votes in a close fight between the two. Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy, BJP’s Kewal Dhillon and the Akali Dal’s Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana were at the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
Simranjit, a hardliner
Simranjit Singh, 77, is a former MP and the president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) – not related to the larger Shiromani Akali Dal. Simranjit is a hardline Sikh leader and considered to be pro-Khalistan.
Sangrur was the only Lok Sabha seat won by the AAP in 2019. Bhagwant Mann had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections. He had won in 2014 after defeating SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa with a margin of 2.11 lakh votes. In 2019, Bhagwant Mann again won by a margin of 1.10 lakh votes after defeating Congress party’s Kewal Dhillon, who was BJP’s candidate this time in the by-poll.
The by-poll had witnessed a low turnout of 45.30 per cent as against 72.44 per cent polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 76.71 per cent in 2014 polls. It was the first major electoral battle after AAP’s resounding victory in the state assembly polls in March this year.
For the ruling AAP, the by-poll was seen as a battle of prestige for retaining its bastion, while for opposition parties Congress, BJP and SAD were looking to register a victory after being decimated in the assembly polls.
Sangrur parliamentary constituency is considered to be the bastion of AAP which won all the nine assembly segments — Lehra, Dirba, Barnala, Sunam, Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan, Malerkotla, Dhuri and Sangrur — in the 2022 assembly elections.
While the opposition parties — Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP – assailed the AAP for an alleged deteriorating law and order situation, murder of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala and “unfulfilled” poll promises, the ruling party focused on its promises of eradicating corruption, creating jobs, improving the condition of schools and hospitals, and paving the way for a “Rangla (vibrant) Punjab” again.
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