Akalis Hit The Dustbin Worst-Ever Defeat

PATIALA – The grand old party of Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), has faced its worst-ever electoral defeat in the district.   A close analysis reveals that the party plunged to the third spot behind debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in four of the eight constituencies in Patiala district. The party faced huge embarrassment in two seats of Patiala urban and Patiala rural despite having its leaders ruling the local municipal Corporation for last decade and claiming tall.

Incumbent mayor Amarinder Singh Bajaj will have to answer a lot if questions as the party’s official Patiala nominee General (retd) JJ Singh barely managed 11,000 votes, much less than of the AAP’s defeated candidate Dr Balbir Singh, who got 19,000 votes. It is despite the fact that the party had managed 30,000 votes during the last polls.

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Insiders feel that the party’s dismal performance despite fielding a decorated retired army general is definitely a poor reflection on the current mayor’s poor run in the past four years and the internal crisis within the party. Many heads are expected to roll soon, said insiders

Similarly, the SAD’s young face in Patiala Rural also was also pushed to the third spot with its vote share reduced from 26% (2012 polls) to 20% this time, even as the MC claimed to have spent crores on city roads ahead of the elections.

The SAD’s recently appointed district president Surjeet Singh Kohli told the HT that the mayor and other leaders, who were at the helm of affairs in recent years, can’t escape their responsibility after the party’s defeat.

Nabha is yet another constituency, where the party was expected to perform well, but was nowhere near the last poll performance. In comparison to 34% votes in 2012 polls, the party’s debutant face Kabir Dass managed just 22% votes.

In Rajpura, where the SAD’s alliance partner BJP was in the fray, it faced complete route with just 19,000 votes against Congress’ winning candidate, who got more than 59,000 votes despite having Hindu-dominated constituency.

In areas where the SAD’s candidates were runners-up, its defeat margin was astonishing. For instance, its candidate from Ghanaur, Harpreet Kaur, was a distant second after losing to the Congress’ Madan Lal by over 36,000 votes. Party’s Shutrana candidate Vaninder Kaur Loomba lost to Congress’ Nirmal Singh by nearly 19,000 votes.

Another major embarrassment for the party was the defeat of cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, who could not survive the Congress wave, even as he made every possible effort to clinch the victory including seeking the dera support ahead of polling.

A senior professor at Punjabi University’s political science department Narinder Kumar Dogra said that the party’s road to power will not be as easy since opposition space is now divided between them and the AAP.

“They really need to pull its socks to come in the revival mode and reconnect with the lost vote bank to both AAP and Congress,” he said

Meanwhile, in Sangrur district too, three of its candidates in Sangrur, Dhuri and Dirba slided to thrid number in Sangrur districts while Fatehgarh Sahib’s Bassi Pathana candidate Darbara Guru was also a distant third.

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