Sarabjit Pandher

The party has increased its tally from 3 in 2002 to 19 now

  • Kanwaljit Singh of Akali Dal records highest victory margin of 42,650 votes
  • Rajinder Kaur Bhattal retains Lehragagga by a margin of just 254 votes

    CHANDIGARH: The Punjab jinx continues. No party has ever been able to retain power in the State, and the Congress found itself at the loser's end this time round.

    The Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance is all set to stake its claim to form the government after it bagged 67 of the 116 seats, polling for which took place earlier this month. Also, the BJP was able to retain the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, where the former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu was declared elected by a margin of over 77,000 votes.

    According to the final tally, cleared by the Election Commission late on Tuesday, the Shiromani Akali Dal bagged 48 of the 93 seats it contested, while the BJP romped home in 19 out of 23. The Congress, which contested the elections on its own, won in 44. Five seats went to Independents, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the "third front," consisting of the Left parties and the Lok Bhalai Party, could not open its account. The Election Commission postponed the election in the Beas constituency.

    Among the star winners are Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who won in Patiala by 32,742 votes, and Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal, who retained the Lambi seat by over 9,000 votes. Akali general secretary Kanwaljit Singh recorded the highest victory margin of 42,650 votes to score a hat trick at Banur. However, his son, Jasjit Singh, lost in the neighbouring Kharar constituency.

    Interestingly, Parminder Singh and Amarpal Singh, sons of Akali MPs Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Rattan Singh, won from Sunam and Ajnala. Similarly, Rajbans Kaur, wife of Congress MP from Kapurthala Rana Gurjit Singh, won from the Kapurthala Assembly seat. Bikramjit Singh Majithia, brother-in-law of Akali MP Sukhbir Singh Badal, won from the Majitha seat.

    It is interesting to note that only five members of the outgoing Council of Ministers, including Captain Amarinder Singh, were able to retain their seats. The others include Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who retained her Lehragagga seat by a margin of just 254 votes, and PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa, who won by about 4,700 votes. The other Ministers were Lal Singh, who retained Dakala, and Amarjit Singh Samra, who won from Nakodar.

    State Congress president Shamsher Singh Bullo was among the top leaders who were vanquished. The others are the former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Bibi Jagir Kaur, the former Rajya Sabha member B.S. Bhunder, and the former Ministers Gurdev Singh, Sikander Singh Maluka, Jathedar Tota Singh, and Surjit Singh Rakhra.

    For the first time, the Akalis lost the Qila Raipur seat, which was won by Congress candidate and NRI businessman Jasbir Singh Khangura.

    The BJP surprised many by winning 19 seats, but Madan Mohan Mittal, former State president, lost from the Nangal seat. The party raised its tally from three in the 2002 elections.