The Congress surrendered one of two Punjab seats to the Shiromani Akali Dal — the former had held both when they fell vacant — but each bypoll result gave Amarinder Singh a personal victory against PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa. This followed the Lok Sabha results; after Bajwa had ensured Amarinder was fielded from Amritsar, he saw the latter win while he lost his own contest in Gurdaspur.
In the bypolls, Bajwa concentrated all his efforts in Talwandi Sabo, camping there for a month for candidate Harminder Singh Jassi. Jassi lost by over 46,000 votes. In Patiala, Amarinder’s wife Perneet Kaur won by 23,000 votes.
Perneet had lost to the Aam Aadmi Party’s Dr Dharamvir Gandhi in the Lok Sabha elections. The AAP, whose four Lok Sabha seats are all in Punjab, was seen as a strong contender but finished third in both bypolls and lost its deposit in Patiala. In Talwandi Sabo, its vote count fell from 15,000-plus to 13,899, despite a higher turnout.
The SAD had fielded new recruit Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, formerly a Congressman and a close aide of Bajwa. Jeet Mohinder Singh’s margin was more than four times as high as Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s lead of 11,000 from this segment. “I was expecting a lead of more than 11,000 votes, but not such a huge one,” he said.
Having lost, the Bajwa camp blames the defeat to rigging and diversion of party resources to Patiala. They accuse Amarinder of assigning at least 40 Congress MLAs to Patiala. Amarinder’s team argues nobody stopped Bajwa from assigning MLAs to Talwandi Sabo.