The bypoll in Dhuri gave the Shiromani Akali Dal an absolute majority in Punjab, a boost to its morale without posing any immediate threat to its alliance with the BJP. The Congress suffered a rout after having tried a coup by fielding S S Barnala’s grandson.
Gobind Singh Longowal of the SAD won by 37,501 votes, polling 67,596 votes to Simarpartap Singh Barnala’s 30,095. The earlier Congress MLA, Arvind Khanna, had resigned.
Ther SAD now has 59 MLAs in the 117-member assembly. This is the third time in a year that the SAD has snatched a Congress seat, following Moga and Talwandi Sabo.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has stressed many times that the coalition partners will stay together. The victory, nevertheless, comes at a time when the BJP has been on the ascendancy and there has been talk of the party going it alone in the 2015 assembly elections.
Badal said, “The result shows in a most forceful and categorical manner that the people of the state stand fully behind the policies and programmes of the SAD-BJP government.”
The Congress had put a lot into the election, which had brought its factions together. PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa had camped in Dhuri while Capt Amarinder Singh was among leaders who attended a rally.
Dhuri is part of Sangrur, a Lok Sabha seat with the Aam Aadmi Party, which skipped the bypoll. Its MP Bhagwant Mann had got 63,189 votes from Dhuri.