Congress party candidate Sunil Jakhar and BJP candidate Swaran Singh Salaria were on same page when asked if rape charges against former Akali minister Sucha Singh Langah had any impact on Gurdaspur bypoll results. Both claimed that it had no impact on voters. However, figures suggest that in Dera Baba Nanak Assembly constituency, that was responsibility of the SAD, BJP candidate Salaria polled only 32,063 votes, while Jakhar got 76,137 votes. This despite the fact that before surrendering in Gurdaspur court, Langah had requested people to vote for the BJP candidate. Dera Baba Nanak had witnessed highest 64 per cent voting, and it voted for the Congress in a big way.
But 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 too 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 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. Salaria also insisted that the release of his purported obscene pictures with a Mumbai-based former air-hostess did not damage his campaign.
After the results were declared, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said that the outcome will make BJP realise that SAD has become a libility for them. Overall, in Assembly segments with SAD, Jakhar recorded bigger margin of victory, than BJP’s Assembly segments. Qadian, Batala, Fatehgarh Churian, Gurdaspur, were all Assembly seats from where SAD conteted during the recent state elections. But in each of these Assembly segments, Jakhar led by more than 25,000 votes.
The BJP had contested four Assembly seats during the state polls — Pathankot, Boha, Sujanpur and Dinanagar. It had, however, won just Sujanpur. On Sunday, Jakhar won Sujanpur Assembly segment by a lead of 6701 votes. Salaria, however, argued that his defeat margin in other Assembly segments of the BJP was less that the party candidates who lost those seats in Feburary. While its true that margin of defeat has decreased for Salaria on these three seats, however, it is also a fact that the voting percentage also remained low on these seats. Congress had appointed its Hindu face in Punjab, Cabinet minister Brahm Mohindra, to campaign on seats where BJP was strong. BJP spokesperson Vineet Joshi, said, “This is not the victory of Congress party. It is victory of the Congress government. There is history in Punjab that incumbent governments win bypolls.”