Chandigarh, Oct 15: If Prime Minister rendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah’s ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ (Congress-free India) campaign has hit a wall in any state, it is definitely Punjab.
The unprecedented victory of the Congress, by over 1.93 lakh votes, over the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat by-election, the result of which was declared on Sunday, has certainly put another spanner in the BJP bandwagon’s wheel.
The Congress, which achieved an emphatic win in the February Punjab assembly elections and returned to power after a gap of 10 years, has again shown — through its big win in Gurdaspur — that it can counter the BJP’s political offensive. After the Assembly and now Gurdaspur loss, the BJP might try to get away by saying that it is a smaller player in an alliance with the domint Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab but it will not cut much ice. The by-election, necessitated byVinod Khan’s death in April due to cancer, was not only a test for the Modi government, which has been in office for over three years, but also the nearly seven-month-old Congress government in Punjab led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Amarinder Singh, who bet on Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar — a rank outsider — in Gurdaspur, much to the annoyance of Congress leader from Gurdaspur district and Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa, saw that the Congress candidate sailed through comfortably in the bypoll.
The Aam Aadmi Party, the main opposition party in the Punjab Assembly, ended up with much embarrassment as its candidate Major General S.K. Khajuria (retd) lost his security deposit.
The BJP will soon have to figure out whether it would want to continue playing second fiddle to the Akalis in Punjab or strengthen its own base. Its present state leadership certainly needs an overhaul — given the fact that none of the leaders have a statewide appeal. (IANS)