Voting begins for high-stakes Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll in Punjab

08:27 AM May 10, 2023 | PTI |

Jalandhar: Polling began on Wednesday morning for the high-stakes Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll where a four-cornered electoral battle is in the offing with the AAP, Congress, BJP, and Shiromani Akali Dal vying to outdo each other in the Dalit stronghold.


Amid tight security arrangements, voting for the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency began at 8 am and will continue till 6 pm, said officials.

There are a total 16,21,800 eligible voters, including 8,44,904 males, 7,76,855 females, and 41 transgenders in the constituency.

Nineteen candidates, including four women, are in the fray. The counting of votes will take place on May 13.

There are 1,972 polling stations in the constituency and 497 of them have been identified as critical, officials said.


A dedicated women-only polling station has been set up in all nine assembly constituencies, which are part of the Jalandhar parliamentary seat.

The Jalandhar Lok Sabha (reserved) seat fell vacant following the death of Congress MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary. He suffered a cardiac arrest during the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jalandhar’s Phillaur in January this year.

The AAP has fielded former MLA Sushil Rinku who quit the Congress to join the Punjab’s ruling party while the Congress has shown its faith in Karamjit Kaur, the wife of Santokh Chaudhary.

The BJP has fielded Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, a Dalit Sikh, who quit the Shiromani Akali Dal to join the saffron party. Atwal is the son of former Punjab Vidhan Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal who had also joined the BJP.

The SAD has fielded its two-time MLA from Banga seat Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, who is a doctor. The SAD candidate is backed by its ally Bahujan Samaj Party. The Simranjit Singh Mann-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has fielded Gurjant Singh. Punjab’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party is hoping to mark its presence in the Lok Sabha by registering a victory in the bypoll.

The win is important for the AAP which had faced drubbing in the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll, just three months after it came to power in March 2022 with a thumping majority of 92 seats in the 117 assembly segments in Punjab.

The bypoll is also being seen as a test of the one-year performance of the Bhagwant Mann-led government which has been harping on providing free electricity, jobs to youth, regularising services of contractual employees, action against corruption and opening of mohalla clinics among others.

The Congress, meanwhile, is looking to defend its citadel with its prestige at stake. The Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat is considered to be a traditional stronghold of the Congress which has remained undefeated from here since 1999.

The stakes are also high for the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal which saw humiliating defeats during the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls. Both parties were once allies in Punjab. The SAD broke ties with the BJP in 2020 over the now-repealed farm laws.

During campaigning, the ruling AAP sought votes for the ”development work” done in the last year.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal told people that they voted for the Congress for the last 60 years and asked them to give his party a chance for the next 11 months.

”If you do not like the work done by our candidate, then do not vote for the AAP in the 2024 general elections,” he said.

The opposition Congress, BJP, and SAD targeted the AAP government over various issues, including alleged deteriorating law and order, corruption, and failure to fulfil its poll promises, especially giving Rs 1,000 per month to women.


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