As Akali bastion, Jalalabad, recorded 75.46 per cent polling, the Congress declared that SAD was on its way to losing the seat by a huge margin. Polling concluded amid complaints and counter complaints of distribution of money, liquor and allegations of vandalism by SAD against Congress workers.
The Jalalabad seat fell vacant after sitting MLA and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Ferozepur parliamentary segment in the 2019 general election. The bypoll was seen as a direct contest between SAD’s Raj Singh Dibipura and Congress’ Raminder Singh Awla.
A party stall set up by SAD near a polling station near the town’s grain market was damaged, with SAD candidate Raj Singh Dibipura alleging that even Akali workers were beat up by Congressmen.
Jalalabad constituency incharge for SAD, Satinderjit Singh Manta, while speaking to Punjab Minister Rana Sodhi’s son, Heera Sodhi, said, “This will have a very bad impact in future elections, you are not doing a good thing. Elections cannot be won by clashing and by misusing official machinery.”
Heera Sodhi, however, told The Indian Express: “We don’t know who broke the stall. But Akalis are frustrated over not getting public support and that too on the ‘toughest’ seat in Punjab (for Congress). Akalis have lost this seat and that too with a big margin. Results will show on October 24.”
Meanwhile, the SAD candidate handed over one Manish Vohra, a Guru-Har-Sahai resident, to police for alleged distribution of money to voters. He said, “I myself caught him red handed….This was happening outside booth number 30 in Jalalabad town. Congress is hell bent on flouting all rules. Elections have happened in the past as well, but such anarchy had never been seen.”
SSP Bhupendra Singh, said, “We are investigating the case as Vohra has complained that he was forcibly picked from polling booth and handed over to the police.”
In villages Ghubaya, Jalalabad, Bannwala, all vulnerable booths as per Election Commission, SAD candidate alleged that cameras inside the booths were not working. Akali Dal also alleged that Congress distributed liquor ahead of polls at just Rs 10 a carton for country liquor and Rs 20 for an IMFL carton. SSP, however, stated, “I have not got any complaint regarding distribution of liquor till now, no one lodged any written complaints.”
Despite the allegations by SAD candidate, District Administration said that polling remained normal at all the booths. DC Manpreet Chhatwal, however, said, “We have got no complaints of non-working cameras. Otherwise also it is webcast and hence recording can be shown if they want of any polling booth.”
There were total 239 polling booths in the constituency out of which 100 were vulnerable and four were critical. Hans Raj Josan, former Jalalabad MLA of Congress, said, “Sukhbir (Badal) committed a big mistake by leaving his seat. Congress is winning this seat with a huge margin. Hence such false complaints from Akalis can be understood.”
Jalalabad has 10 villages on Pak border out of 154 total. Of the total 239 booths, only 31 were urban and the rest were rural booths.