Chandigarh: Seeking to play down his party’s defeat, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today claimed it managed to retain its vote share in the Shahkot by-election to emerge as the principal Opposition.
In a statement here, the SAD president said the SAD polled 43,944 votes against 46,913 votes it secured during the 2017 assembly election.
The ruling Congress wrested the Shahkot Assembly, with party candidate Hardev Singh Ladi defeating SAD’s Naib Singh Kohar by 38,802 votes.
Badal said in direct contrast AAP faced a total collapse in the by-election with the party barely polling 1.5 per cent of the vote share by polling 1,900 votes, only slightly more than the vote share under NOTA as well as that polled by SAD (Amritsar).
“The state of AAP can be measured from the fact that it did not even open its account in many villages. It has ceased to exist as a political entity in Punjab”, he added.
The SAD president said the Shahkot election was fought in trying circumstances with the Congress government “misusing” excise, sales tax, panchayat and electricity board officials besides the police force to intimidate voters.
He said despite this the SAD put up a good fight and there was a groundswell of support in its favour.
He said the result was however not commensurate with this effort because “civil and police officials toed the Congress line and even election code violations like entry of illegal liquor in trucks into the constituency were overlooked”.
Thanking the party cadre for putting up a good fight, he said the Akali vote bank stood by the party despite the fact that the Congress government had barely completed one year in office.
He said despite “mass scale irregularities”, the SAD accepted the verdict and would work tirelessly to ensure justice to the people.
“We will force the Congress government to fulfil the promises made to the people of Punjab and will not let them run away with excuses”, he added.