Bypoll results 2022: The killing of singer Sidhu Moosewala and the “deteriorating” law and order situation appeared to have worked against the AAP in Punjab, where it lost the bypoll to the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, three months after registering a landslide victory in the assembly elections.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann knocked down the Aam Aadmi Party on its home turf and defeated closest rival candidate Gurmail Singh by a margin of 5,822 votes.
Simranjit Singh Mann, 77, a former IPS officer, secured the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat nearly 23 years after last winning it in 1999. The Sangrur parliamentary constituency was considered the AAP’s bastion and the home turf of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
The AAP cited the low voter turnout in the bypoll as the major reason for its defeat. It said it is taking the result very seriously and will review it, though. The defeat put a big question mark on the leadership of Chief Minister Mann and it also comes at a time when the party is aggressively campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and looking to expand its footprint in other states.
The AAP had won the Sangrur seat, along with three other Lok Sabha seats, from Punjab in 2014, despite a strong “Narendra Modi wave”. It later retained the seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The party had launched an aggressive poll campaign for the Sangrur by-election and its top leaders including Arvind Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann, Manish Sisodia, and most MLAs and ministers from Punjab sought votes in favour of party candidate Gurmail Singh.
From the Sangrur Parliamentary constituency which comprises nine assembly segments, Bhagwant Mann represents the Dhuri segment, Finance Minister Harpal Cheema Dirba and Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer Barnala seat. The remaining six assembly segments are also represented by the party MLAs.
Political pundits cited disenchantment among voters over the issues like law and order situation and failure to deliver on pre-poll promises.
The brutal murder of famous Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala was also being cited by the political experts as one of the factors which went against the ruling AAP in the bypoll.
They said especially youths were angry over the killing of Moosewala, a day after his security cover along with 400 others was pruned.
Opposition parties had also highlighted the alleged deteriorating law and order situation and the killing of Moosewala to take on the AAP-led government during the poll campaigning.
The AAP had even tried to put a spotlight on corruption to corner the opposition parties but it failed to yield the desired results.
Simranjit Singh Mann, who has been raising Sikh and minority-related issues, was able to make inroads especially into the rural vote bank in Sangrur parliamentary constituency, the experts said.
After the bypoll result, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said the “decisive defeat” of the AAP candidate was a “referendum” against the government as it had “miserably failed” to meet the expectations of the people who had voted en masse for the party just three months ago.
"This is an unprecedented defeat of a ruling party that is in office for just 100 days," he said and claimed that at least 4.5 lakh people voted against the AAP candidate in Sangrur.
"It is actually a verdict against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been running the show from behind the scenes," Warring alleged, adding it should be a lesson for CM Bhagwant Mann who has “surrendered” his authority to Kejriwal and is always too keen to “play second fiddle” to him.
Bhagwant Mann had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls after defeating SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa with a margin of 2.11 lakh votes. He again contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Sangrur and won it by a margin of 1.10 lakh votes after defeating Congress party's Kewal Dhillon.
In the bypoll, the results of which were declared on Sunday, Simranjit Singh Mann polled 2,53,154 votes, while Gurmail Singh secured 2,47,332 votes, as per official figures.
The ruling AAP got 34.79 percent vote share while the Congress managed to garner 11.21 per cent, according to official figures. The BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal got 9.33 and 6.25 percent vote share, respectively.
With this result, the vote share of the AAP went down by two percent compared to the vote share registered by the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. AAP spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said, “Lakhs of people did not cast their votes amid the ongoing paddy sowing season and extreme heat in Sangrur. We will learn from this election and will work more industriously for the welfare of people. We will come back strongly.”
The bypoll to the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat had witnessed a low voter turnout of 45.30 percent as against 72.44 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 76.71 in 2014. There were 15.69 lakh eligible voters this time. A total of 7,10,919 votes were polled.