Lisa Cosmetics

AAP wrests Jalandhar from Congress to win semi-finals of 2024 general elections

True to expectations that it is difficult to defeat the ruling party in a bye election, AAP has done it.

Centre Court Developments

True to expectations that it is difficult to defeat the ruling party in a bye election, AAP has done it. It has won the Jalandhar Lok Sabha by poll in style defeating the incumbent Congress by nearly 60,000 votes in a quadrangular contest that saw the SAD-BSP alliance climbing a step while the BJP, ruling party at the centre,  finished fourth in a fierce contest. Logistic aberrations apart, the poll was conducted in a peaceful manner on May 10 witnessing a little more than 54 percent polling.

Similar stories
1 of 2,033

They say all is fair in love and war. So are the electoral battles for political supremacy.

In fact May 13  turned out to be a political revival day for Congress as it stormed back to power in Karnataka pushing BJP to the second spot.
The Just concluded Jalandhar Lok Sabha by poll has reiterated the roar of rulers while remaining cry hoarse. All opposition parties in Punjab accused AAP of misusing state machinery, including police, besides violating the conventions of prohibiting presence of outsiders in the poll area, the results nullified all allegations.

AAP has been successful in putting behind the Sangrur Lok Sabha bye election reverse. It has also improved its vote share in Jalandhar, the stronghold of Dalits by taking its tally from four to seven of nine Lok Sabha segments.

Sushil Kumar Rinku, who changed loyalties from Congress to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) just on eve of the crucial by poll, turned out to be a trump card in a battle that featured three sitting or ex-legislators besides the widow of the incumbent. He has now almost a year, 11 months to be precise, to prove himself as a new leader in a riding where Congress remained victorious in five of eight last Lok Sabha elections. It is this constituency that once elected Indian Prime Minister, Inder Kumar Gujral, on Janata Dal ticket with the support of Shiromani Akali Dal.

Stakes were high as all four main claimants to the seat for the remainder of the term went all out to win the mandate of this hot bed of Dalit politics. Congress, first to announce its candidate, named Karamjit Kaur, widow of Chaudhary Santokh Singh, whose untimely death led to this by poll.

Chaudhary family has been a dominant and popular political family of the Doab and has perhaps more legislative representations than any other single Dalit family in the state.

Groupism in the Punjab Congress notwithstanding,  all senior leaders pledged their  support to the Chaudhary family. Even Navjot Singh Sidhu, after release from Patiala jail, was among the first Congress leaders to visit Chaudhary family, to extend his support to Karamjit Kaur.

A party stronghold, Jalandhar has been voting for the Congress nominee for the last five consecutive terms since 1999. Karamjit, who studied MPhil and MA in history and English, has a rapport with people across the constituency. She served as the Principal, Government Arts and Sports College, Jalandhar.  When she superannuated she was  Director of Public Instructions (Colleges). Since then, she has been actively campaigning for her husband as well as son Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, an MLA from Phillaur.

Chaudhary Santokh Singh represented a prominent political family. His father Master Gurbanta Singh was a minister and a seven-time MLA. His brother Chaudhary Jagjit Singh too was a minister and a five-time MLA. Besides winning the Lok Sabha poll in 2014 and 2019, Santokh Singh Chaudhary was a three-time MLA and served as a minister twice.

Politics comes naturally to Karamjit Kaur, who had been playing the role of a King Maker. Her son is a sitting member of Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Though it was her first electoral battle, her performance against the might of a ruling party makes her a strong contender when the general elections are called next year. She lost to her former party colleague and ex-MLA, Sushil Kumar Rinku, by nearly 60,000 votes in a quadrangular contest.

After Congress, Punjab’s ruling party AAP was in a quandary in finding a suitable candidate. Though it had won 92 seats in the 2022 State Assembly elections, its performance then was not satisfactory as it won only in four of nine Lok Sabha segments.

Its choice fell on Sushil Kumar Rinku who offered to quit Congress in return for a ticket to Lok Sabha. The pact worked. Being a former Congress legislator with substantial Dalit backing, Sushil Kumar Rinku lived up to his promise in making a major dent in his former party stronghold and give AAP its first ever Lok Sabha seat from the Doab region.

Incidentally, Sushil Kumar will be now the sole representative of AAP in Lok Sabha. The last AAP leader to sit in Lok Sabha was Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who had to quit his seat after his election as Chief Minister of Punjab in March last year. In the subsequent Sangrur Lok Sabha by poll, AAP could not retain the seat that went to Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, Simranjt Singh Mann.

AAP needed to salvage some of its pride before the 2024 general elections. And Jalandhar provided the opportunity that AAP accepted. It was difficult and tough with all major political players making it a prestigious contest.

The semi-final has gone to AAP. It has improved its vote share in Jalandhar considerably. It was also a morale booster for the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bahujan Samaj Party (SAD-BJP) alliance as it pushed BJP to fourth spot. By polling 1.58 lakh votes, the SAD-BSP candidate, Dr Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, a sitting SAD MLA from Banga, proved he is no push over. Fighting against all odds, including losing popularity of his party, Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, has provided a ray of hope for the SAD.

Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, who along with his father Charanjit Singh Atwal, had switched loyalties from SAD to BJP, finished fourth, just 24000 votes behind SAD-BSP candidate. The BJP could not have asked for more as it has been successful in sending a message that it could contest any Punjab seat on its own. It was the second time that BJP contested independently after Sangrur and finished among top four on both the occasions.

The Jalandhar by poll provided a fair opportunity to all major political players to assess their strengths and weaknesses and identify areas where they have to work more before the 2024 elections.

You might also like More from author

Comments are closed.