In a major victory to the Congress party, Sunil Jakhar defeated BJP nominee Swaran Salaria in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll with a margin of 1,93,219 votes.
Jakhar led in all nine assembly seats with 4,99,752 votes, followed by BJP with 3,06,533 and AAP with 23,579.
Jakhar also thanked voters and the party for the massive lead.
Counting of votes for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, which witnessed a three-cornered race among the BJP, the Congress and the AAP, began at 8 on Sunday morning.
Talking to reporters, state cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said, “We have sent a beautiful Diwali gift packed with red ribbon to our would be President Rahul Gandhi because it sets the tone…It will be a shot in the arm for the Congress.”
“This (victory) is a big slap on the face of ‘jija-saala’ (SAD chief Sukhbir Badal and Bikram Singh Majithia). Today BJP will realise that Akali Dal in Punjab has become a burden. Time and again people have reprimanded them. It will be demoralising and send them (SAD-BJP) packing,” said Sidhu.
Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat has been a stronghold of the BJP. It has nine Assembly segments — Bhoa, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Dinanagar, Qadian, Fathegarh Churian, Dera Baba Nanak, Sujanpur and Batala.
The bypoll was seen as a barometer for the popularity of the six-month-old Congress government in Punjab. Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar had earlier claimed the bypoll would be a “referendum” on the NDA government.
The AAP, the main opposition party in Punjab with 20 seats in the House, was also looking to strengthen its presence in the state with victory in the bypoll. The seat had fallen vacant following the demise of Khanna in April.