JUST MONTHS after it stormed to power in Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) suffered a setback on Sunday as it lost the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, vacated by its Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, to Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann. The AAP now has no member in the Lok Sabha.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) lost its strongholds of Azamgarh and Rampur to the BJP in the Lok Sabha bypolls. The two seats fell vacant after party chief Akhilesh Yadav and senior party leader Azam Khan were elected to the Assembly in March.
In Azamgarh, where the Muslim-Yadav dominance had helped Mulayam Singh Yadav win the seat in 2014 and Akhilesh in 2019, BJP nominee Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirahua”, a Bhojpuri actor, defeated SP’s Dharmendra Yadav, a former MP and cousin of Akhilesh, by a margin of about 8,600 votes. In 2019, Akhilesh had defeated Nirahua by 2.6 lakh votes. The SP had then contested the election in alliance with the BSP.
The results show that the BSP made a dent in the SP’s votebank. The BSP, which was routed in the Assembly elections in March, had fielded former MLA Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali, who came third with over 2.54 lakh votes. He was the only prominent Muslim candidate in the fray.
In Rampur, where Muslims account for about 52 per cent of the population, BJP’s Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi defeated SP’s Asim Raja by a margin of 42,192 votes in a straight contest. The BSP had not fielded any candidate, which may have helped the BJP to get the Dalit votes.
THE DEFEAT in Sangrur, just months after its spectacular win in the Punjab Assembly elections, comes as a wake-up call for the AAP. In UP, by wresting two SP strongholds, the BJP has strengthened its already-dominant position ahead of the urban local body elections due later this year.
In Punjab, the AAP suffered a shock defeat in Sangrur, where its candidate, Gurmel Singh, lost to SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann, a 77-year-old pro-Khalistan leader, by a narrow margin of 5,822 votes.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had won his first election as MP from Sangrur in 2014 by a margin of about 2.10 lakh votes. He retained the seat in 2019, with a winning margin of 1.1 lakh votes. The AAP had won all the nine Assembly seats which fall in Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency in the Assembly elections in March. Today, it lagged behind in Malerkotla, Dirba, Barnala, Mehal Kalan and Bhadaur constituencies.
“This is a great win for the party. We have defeated all the national parties in this bypoll. I am aware of the problems of labourers, poor economic conditions of Sangrur and hence, I will be taking up all these issues,” Simranjit Singh Mann said.
While Congress’s Dalvir Singh Goldy came third, SAD (Badal)’s Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana was pushed to fifth place, after the BJP’s Kewal Dhillon.
There was some cheer for the AAP in Delhi, where its candidate Durgesh Pathak won the Rajinder Nagar Assembly seat by over 11,000 votes, defeating BJP’s Rajesh Bhatia. The seat was vacated by AAP’s Raghav Chadha after his election to Rajya Sabha from Punjab.
Bypolls were also held in six other Assembly seats — four in Tripura and one each in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. While the ruling YSRCP won the Atmakur seat in Andhra, the Congress won the Mandar (ST) reserved seat in Jharkhand.
In Tripura, Chief Minister Manik Saha won the Bardowali seat by a comfortable margin. Of the four seats in the state, the ruling BJP won three and the Congress one. The BJP had three seats earlier as well.