“COME WHAT may, the government is going to change for sure this time,” Amrik Singh, a young voter from Rayya in the Baba Bakala Assembly constituency had summed up the anti-incumbency mood in Majha ahead of the elections. Majha, comprising Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts, has regained its reputation of handing out a decisive anti-incumbency vote in poll after poll since 1997 with only exception in 2012 when it voted 17 SAD-BJP MLAs, after electing 24 MLAs from the alliance in 2007.
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The worst of the Akali drubbing in this election in terms of seats took place in Majha. Of 25 seats in the Majha region, only three candidates of SAD-BJP alliance – two Akali candidates and one BJP candidate could win. AAP was not a factor in these constituencies, and won no seats in this region.
Akali leaders Bikram Singh Majithia and Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal won from Majitha and Batala, respectively. BJP’s Dinesh Babbu won from Sujanpur by a margin of 18,701 votes. While Majithia won by 22,884 votes, Lodhinangal won by slender margin of 485 votes. The runner up candidates in both the constituencies were from Congress party, which won 22 seats this time in Majha, party’s highest tally since 1997 elections.
In 1997, SAD-BJP combine registered a landslide victory winning 25 of 27 seats (Before 2012 elections, there were 27 Assembly segments in Majha) and remaining two seats bagged by candidates contesting as independent candidates.
Anti-incumbency was last evident in the 2002 elections when Congress took a giant leap to 17 from a tally of zero in 1997. The SAD-BJP combine won seven seats in that election, while three had gone to Independent candidates.
Congress was at the receiving end of the region’s anti-incumbency voting in 2007, when the Congress could win only three seats. This time, Congress reaped the windfall of anti-incumbency. Congress won all four assembly constituencies in the ‘Panthic’ Tarn Taran district that was a SAD stronghold.
Congress candidate Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, who attended bhog ceremony of the assassins of former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 2016, won the Khemkarn seat handsomely from SAD heavyweight and former militant Virsa Singh Valtoha by 19,598 votes.
In Tarn Taran, the vote share of Congress candidate Dharamvir Agnihotri increased dramatically from 45,388 in 2012 to 59,165. He defeated SAD sitting MLA Harmeet Singh Sandhu, whose 2012 votes got shaved off by about 5000. AAP candidate Kartar Singh Phelwan got 22,950 votes on this seat.
Congress’s Ramandeep Singh Sikki, who won Khadoor Sahib in 2012 but resigned in 2015 over the desecration issue, won again this time by a bigger margin of 17,055 votes. Congress did not contest the by-election in February 2016 that SAD won.
From Patti, Congress’ Harmander Singh Gill defeated four time MLA and cabinet minister Adesh Partap Singh Karion. Congress candidate Balwinder Singh Laddi gained around 6847 votes in the reserved constituency of of Sri Hargobindpur to touch tally of 57489 votes. He had lost the seat in 2012 to SAD candidate Des Raj Dhugga. SAD vote share reduced by 18655 in 2017, sharply less than the 24294 votes polled for AAP candidate Amarpal Singh.
Congress improved its share of votes in Jandiala from 50,321 to the 53,042 votes its candidate polled in 2012. Last time’s winner from SAD polled 34620 votes this time, with the AAP candidate snapping at his heels with 33912 votes.
Sitting MLA and SAD minister Gulzar Singh Ranike got 45,133 votes to lose the seat to rival Congress candidate Tarsem Singh DC, who won the seat by securing 55,335 votes. AAP candidate Jaswinder Singh got 22558 votes. Tarsem Singh had lost seat by 4,983 votes to Ranike in 2012.
Repeat candidates work magic for Cong
Congress had repeated its candidates on 13 seats and 12 of them won. Besides SAD had repeated candidates on 20 and 18 of them lost.
BJP wins Sujanpur
The BJP could repeat performance only on Sujanpur seat of Pathankot in Mahja where its candidate Dinesh Singh again won with minor reduction in lead that he got in 2012. Otherwise BJP Local Body minister Anil Joshi, who was again contesting from Amritsar North and was considered strongest in region, lost by 14,248 votes to congress candidate Sunil Dutti, who was new to constituency but secured 59,212 votes. Joshi had demanded vote on the plank of development in his constituency.
AAP cuts into Cong votes in Batala
In an interesting contest in Batala seat in Gurdaspur district, SAD candidate Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal won despite the reduction in his vote share. He polled 42,517 votes, less than the 47,921 he got in 2012. Ashwani Sekhri of the Congress, who had won the seat in 2012 with 66806 but got only 42032 in 2017. AAP’s state convener Gurpreet Singh “Ghuggi” Waraich secured 34,302 votes, most of which seems to have come from Sekhri’s share.