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Congress wrests Shahkot from Akalis

Voters queue up at a polling booth in Shahkot on May 28, 2018. Photo: Special Arrangement

Voters queue up at a polling booth in Shahkot on May 28, 2018. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Win gives party two-thirds majority in 117 member Punjab Assembly

The Congress party on Thursday wrested the Shahkot Assembly seat in Punjab from the Shiromani Akali Dal, winning the by-election by a whopping 38, 802 votes.

Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi defeated his nearest rival Naib Singh Kohar of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Mr. Ladi secured 82,747 votes while SAD candidate got 43,945 votes, the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) candidate Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan, who finished third got 1900 votes, said an election commission official.

The Congress now has 78 MLAs and a two-third majority in the 117 member State Assembly.

The Shahkot seat, which is considered an Akali bastion had fallen vacant in February this year, following death of Akali Dal MLA Ajit Singh Kohar.

Vindication: Amrinder

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh termed the victory a vindication of the government’s people-centric policies, marking the total rejection of the negative, divisive and toxic politics of SAD and complete decimation of AAP.

“People of Shahkot had voted for positive change and development. With two-thirds majority now in the House, our government could bring in any legislation it wanted in the interest of the people of Punjab, without the fear of a negative Opposition obstructing its passage,” Capt. Amarinder.said.

The Chief Minister said the Akali Dal's continuing string of defeats in Punjab showed that they had completely lost favour with the people.

“As far as the Aam Aadmi Party was concerned, it had completely lost the script and was no longer relevant in the country’s political arena,” said the Chief Minister.

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the Shahkot election was fought in trying circumstances with the Congress government. “Despite this, SAD put up a good fight and there was a groundswell of support in its favour. Result was, however, not commensurate with this effort because civil and police officials toed the Congress line and even election code violations like entry of illegal liquor in trucks into the constituency were overlooked,” said Mr. Badal.

AAP's co-president Balbir Singh the party will discuss it with the volunteers and office bearers to find out what went wrong. “We will try hard to shun the mistakes made in the past.” He said new plans and strategies will be made to reach out the voters at booth level.

The Congress had won 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha during 2017 Assembly polls while the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine managed to win 18 seats. The AAP won 20 seats while Lok Insaf Party had bagged two seats.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 5:55:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-wrests-shahkot-from-akalis/article24049303.ece

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