Though Sunil Jakhar, the victorious Congress candidate in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, has claimed the result was as a vote against BJP and “Modi’s policies”, a detailed break-up of results for each Assembly segment tell a more nuanced story. Jakhar defeated BJP’s Swaran Singh Salaria by a whopping 1.93 lakh votes, but BJP’s vote share increased in three of the four Assembly segments it had contested in the February 4 Punjab Assembly elections. In the fourth, its vote share remained intact.
It was the Akalis who suffered bigger losses in this election. BJP’s vote share in Bhoa Assembly segment witnessed an increase of more than 12 per cent as compared to February 4 Assembly elections when its candidate Seema Kumari lost while securing 30.9 per cent of of the total polled votes. In October 11, Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, BJP’s vote share in Bhoa segment increased to 43.7 per cent.
Congress’ vote share for the segment remained at about 51 per cent. Similarly, BJP’s vote share increased in Dinanagar Assembly segment too, from 31.5 per cent to 41.1 per cent. Here Congress’s vote share dipped from 55.6 per cent to 52.7 per cent. However, in the Assembly segment of Sujanpur, represented by BJP’s Dinesh Babbu, the Congress made a strong comeback, improving its vote share from nearly 24 per cent to over 50 per cent.
BJP too improved its vote share slightly, from 39 per cent to about 43 per cent. In Pathankot Assembly segment, BJP managed to keep its vote share intact at about 41 per cent. So did the Congress, with an increase from 51 per cent to nearly 53 per cent. Even though BJP lost in each of the nine Assembly segments which form Gurdaspur parliamentary seat, the biggest margins of defeat were in the constituencies where Akali candidates had contested in Assembly polls, as big as 44,000 votes from Dera Baba Nanak constituency alone from where Sucha Singh Langah had contested as Akali nominee.
“It is for the first time that Akalis have lost so badly,” Salaria said, adding that the “ruling Congress in Punjab did not let Akali supporters come out and vote”. Salaria was all praise for SAD president Sukhbir Badal, who he said addressed “seven to eight rallies in a day for 10 days continuously”. “He (Sukhbir Badal) worked so hard. But, it was en election against the ruling government in State. This is nothing but a victory of the government.” SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema too blamed the defeat to Congress’s “pressure” on Akali supporters who “did not turned up to vote”.