The Congress turncoat Sushil Kumar Rinku, who joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a few days ahead of the Jalandhar parliamentary by-election in Punjab, on May 13 won the election for his new party by defeating the nearest rival of the Congress party.
Mr. Sushil, a former Congress MLA won the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat by securing 3,02,279 votes as the AAP candidate. He defeated his nearest rival of the Congress party Karamjit Kaur Chaudhary by 58,691 votes. Mrs. Chaudhary got 2,43,588 votes.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi got 1,58,445 votes to stay in third place. He was the joint candidate of the SAD and Bahujan Samaj Party. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) candidate Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal secured 1,48,00 votes to remain at the fourth spot.
Jolt for Congress
The by-poll result has come as a jolt for the Congress party as Jalandhar parliamentary seat has traditionally been a Congress party’s stronghold. Out of a total of 18 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has won 14 times and lost just four times. Since the year 1999, Congress did not lose the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency until now.
For the ruling AAP, the win has come as a respite as the by-election was being keenly watched against the backdrop of AAP’s popularity, which has been in power for over a year in Punjab and sought votes on its ‘performance’ and ‘policies’.
The AAP made its way in Punjab with a thumping majority in the year 2022, but just three months after coming to power, the AAP had suffered its first jolt when the party lost the parliamentary by-election to the Sangrur constituency, which was considered the party’s bastion. The loss of the AAP candidate was seen as a big blow not just for the party, but also for Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, as Sangrur happens to be the home turf of the Chief Minister.
In Jalandhar, the AAP was seen seeking votes on the ‘zero power bill’, opening of Aam Aadmi Clinics, stiff actions against corruption, and giving over 29,000 jobs to the eligible youth in the state among other issues
Discouraging results for SAD, BJP
The by-election result has come as another setback for the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), which was seeking to make a political comeback with its alliance partner – Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), with its candidate staying in the third spot. For the SAD, which faced a drubbing in the 2022 Punjab Assembly election, and later, the party’s dismal performance in the by-poll in Sangrur parliamentary constituency – the loss is another grim reminder of the crisis that is staring at the SAD, and its top leadership. The poor show could gradually trigger internal bickering in the party and Sukhbir Singh Badal’s leadership could begin to see a challenge from within the party.
For the BJP, which had faced farmer’s wrath in the backdrop of the three farm laws, the by-poll result has not been encouraging as its candidate lost the security deposit as he got less than one-sixth of the total valid votes polled.
The Jalandhar parliamentary, which went for voting on May 10 saw a low voter turnout at 54.70%. In the 2019 parliamentary election, the voter turnout in Jalandhar was 63.04%.