The ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance in Punjab romped home with a landslide victory in the elections to the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samitis, where polling was conducted on May 19. Result of one zone in for a Panchayat Samiti in Patti under Tarn Taran was countermanded, while announcement of another such result in Moga zone was stayed, the State Election Commission said.

Of the total 329 seats in the Zila Parishads across 22 districts, the ruling combine won 297 seats, while Congress with 26 was second and others managed just 6 seats. Out of the total 2731 seats in the Panchayat Samitis, result of 2729 seats had been declared. Akali Dal-BJP won 2122, Congress claimed 454 and "others" accounted for the remaining 153.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal advised the leaders of the Congress to accept their defeat with “grace, humility and democratic dignity.” Through a statement he expressed surprise at the Congress refusal to accept the people’s mandate. “In democracy, only the people are sovereign. No sane and responsible political party or leader would ever question their wisdom or insult the popular mandate as the Congress is doing now. This is bad news for the party for future also,” the statement read.

Instead of finding excuses, the Congress would do better at a serious effort in some soul searching for their streak of defeats, which was getting longer. “The Congress has been losing consistently since 1997, with the sole exception of 2002 Assembly poll, when they scraped through narrowly through divide and rule. Obviously, something is seriously wrong with their approach,” Mr Badal said.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the president of the Akali Dal, through separate statement rubbished the charge by president of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Partap Singh Bajwa regarding rigging in the elections. He said victory of 639 Congress and other non Akali candidates and majority by opposition party in Talwara Block Samiti reflected the fairness and transparency in the most elaborate election exercise conducted in the rural heartland of the State.

Mr Sukhbir Singh that elections for the rural bodies indicated that during the tenure of Mr Bajwa, the seat share of Congress that was 40 percent in the Assembly polls had come down to 20.8 percent. He said that these statistical figures were just a precursor for the results in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, when Congress shall be reduced to a naught.