Congress party candidate Sunil Jakhar and BJP candidate Swaran Singh Salaria were on the same page on being asked whether rape charges against former Akali minister Sucha Singh Langah had any impact on the Gurdaspur bypoll results. Both claimed that it had no impact on voters. However, in Dera Baba Nanak Assembly constituency that was the SAD’s responsibility, BJP candidate Salaria polled only 32,063 votes while Jakhar got 76,137 votes.
Before surrendering in Gurdaspur court, Langah had requested people to vote for the BJP candidate. Dera Baba Nanak had witnessed highest 64 per cent turnout, and it voted for the Congress in a big way. Even as figures suggested otherwise, Jakhar said: “Langah episode had no impact. But people were angry with Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bikram Singh Majithia. They have vent their anger against these two leaders.”
Salaria claimed that Langah episode did not hurt his chances. “I said from the very first day that there have been a lot of questions over the timing of rape case against Langah. But it is not the reason of my defeat. I have lost because government arm-twisted voters in SAD-controlled Assembly constituencies. Not people, but Punjab government has made Jakhar win SAD-controlled constituencies,” he said.
Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said that the result will make BJP realise that SAD has become a liability for them. BJP spokesperson Vineet Joshi, however, said, “This is not the victory of Congress party. It is the victory of Congress government. There is history in Punjab that incumbent governments win bypolls.”