Shiromani Akali Dal’s( Amritsar) Simranjit Singh defeats his Aam Aadmi Party’s rival Gurmail Singh by 7,000 votes from the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, the seat was previously represented by current Chief Minister Bhagwat Singh Mann.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) faced a crushing defeat in the hands of Shiromani Akali Dal ( Amritsar) at the Punjab bypoll elections on Sunday, with Simranjit Singh Mann defeating AAP’s candidate Gurmail Singh by a margin of 7000 votes. With this, the AAP is left with no MPs in the lower house. The election was held following Bhagwant Mann’s resignation after being elected as the Chief Minister of Punjab. This defeat comes as a huge setback for the AAP after it swept the state in March.
According to the Election Commission of India, Simranjit Singh Mann got 2,53,154 votes and recorded a vote share of 35.61 per cent. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Kewal Singh Dhillon polled 66, 298 votes (9.33 per cent), Congress’s Dalvir Singh Goldy recorded 79,668 votes (11.21 per cent), SAD’s Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana received 44,428 votes (6.25 per cent), AAP’s Gurmail Singh managed 2,47,332 votes (34.79 per cent). The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) is a group that got divided from SAD led by the Badals.
Simranjit Singh Mann is known for his pro-Khalistan stand, the SAD(Amritsar) is the only party in Punjab which asks for votes in the name of a separate Khalistan, according to a report in The Indian Express. The Sangrur Lok Sabha seat consists of nine assembly seats- Dirba, Sunam, Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan, Dhuri, Malerkotla, Lehra, Sangrur, and Barnala. Currently, representatives of AAP hold all these seats.
While the Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann represents Dhuri, Harpal Cheema the finance minister is the MLA from Dirba and the education minister Gurmeet Singh represents the assembly constituency of Barnala. The defeat in the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat is considered as a huge loss for AAP because this seat is represented by the Chief Minister including two cabinet ministers.
In the Lok Sabha polls of 2004, the SAD won the seat while the Congress bagged it in 2009. The seat went into the hands of AAP in 2014 and was also retained in 2019. Bhagwant Mann represented the seat for eight years. After winning in 2019 Bhagwant Mann became the lone MP to represent AAP in the lower house. The AAP’s vote share was 48.47 per cent and 37.40 per cent in 2014 and 2019 respectively, in 2022, it went down to 34.79 per cent.
Chief Minister Mann personally took charge of the seat and campaigned for the party, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also visited the constituency but the efforts of both the Chief Ministers went in vain as AAP lost the seat to SAD( Amritsar).
The campaign of AAP was mainly based on issues of welfare and development that Bhagwant Mann carried out during his tenure and it also highlighted the party’s work in Delhi. While the campaign of Shiromani Akali dal (Amritsar) largely centred around the release of Sikh political prisoners. The voter turnout was low this time as Sangrur recorded only 45.30 per cent voting. The voting turnout in the last Punjab bypoll elections 0f 2014 and 2019 was 72.40 percent and 77.21 percent respectively.
Why the AAP lost the seat
Only three months have passed since the AAP government came to power, but still, it failed to save the seat that was represented by CM Bhagwant Mann. Law and order are seen as one of the main reasons for AAP’s defeat in Sangrur by-polls. The killing of popular singer and congress leader Sidhu Moosewala on May 29 had raised questions on law-and-order issues in Punjab.
Moosewala has a huge fan base in Punjab. Moosewala had also contested the recent assembly polls from Mansa earlier this year but remained unsuccessful. Before the elections there were speculations that Moose Wala’s father Balkaur Singh would contest from for Punjab bypoll elections from Sangrur, later Singh put down all the rumours. The Congress was also trying to take advantage over the failure of AAP in handling law and order in the state. On 12th June, the Congress party released a video song that shows Moose Wala’s body and the site in which Moosewala’s cremation was done, and in response, the AAP had accused the Congress of trying to get sympathy votes in the by-polls. Not only law and order but during the campaign there were also protests by some young people in demand for jobs from the AAP government that came to power three months ago.
However, there was something to cheer for the AAP as their candidate Durgesh Pathak has won Delhi’s Rajinder Nagar by-polls by 11,000 votes.