Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) wrested the Dhuri assembly seat from Congress in Punjab, the result of which was declared here today.
SAD candidate Gobind Singh Longowal, a former minister and three-time MLA, drubbed Congress-Sanjha Morcha joint candidate Simar Partap Singh, a political greenhorn and grand son of former Governor and Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala.
The by-poll to Dhuri seat, held on April 11, was necessitated after sitting Congress MLA Arvind Khanna, a close confidante of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, resigned from the seat in January this year.
In the past around eight years of SAD-BJP combine rule, the SAD had won three and Congress one by-polls.
Earlier, the SAD had romped home in by-polls to Moga and Talwandi Sabo seats while Congress retained Patiala seat.
Longowal drubbed Singh with a margin of 37501 votes, an official spokesman said.
Since beginning of counting for the votes Longowal remained ahead of Singh.
While the victory of Longowal is a shot in arm for ruling Akalis, who were facing a strong anti-incumbency, its a set back for a divided Congress in the state.
Longowal was elected to Punjab assembly in 1985, 1997 and 2002. He had remained a minister in 2002 in Parkash Singh Badal government.
Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal had intensively campaigned for Longowal whereas Congress campaigning was marred by infighting.
The defeat of Singh, who contested his maiden poll, is a severe set back for the Barnala family in Punjab.
With this victory, the tally of SAD in the 117-member Punjab assembly has reached 59, one more than the figure required for an absolute majority, its ally BJP had 12 members, Congress 43 and the number of independents are three.
Dhuri assembly seat registered 72 per cent incident free polling on April 11.
The poll to constituency witnessed a high stakes battle between the ruling SAD and the opposition Congress.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stayed away from Dhuri by-poll despite AAP MP Bhagwant Singh Mann garnering sizeable votes from this assembly constituency, part of Sangrur Parliamentary seat during last year’s Lok Sabha polls.
However, SAD (Amritsar) candidate Surjit Singh Kalabula failed to give any fight to candidates of both major political parties.