Four-cornered Jalandhar ls bypoll amid tight security

Jalandhar, May 09 (ANI): Paramilitary and police personnel escort polling officials as they leave for their respective polling booths after collecting EVMs and other voting materials on the eve of Jalandhar by-elections, in Jalandhar on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Jalandhar is gearing up for a high-stakes, four-cornered electoral battle in the Lok Sabha by-election scheduled for Wednesday. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are all vying to outdo each other in the Dalit stronghold.
The Jalandhar Lok Sabha (reserved) seat fell vacant following the death of Congress MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary, who suffered a cardiac arrest during the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jalandhar’s Phillaur in January.
The ruling AAP in Punjab is eager to make its mark in the Lok Sabha by securing a victory in the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency. This win is critical for AAP, which faced a crushing defeat in the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll only three months after coming to power in March 2022 with a massive majority of 92 seats in the 117 assembly segments in Punjab.
The byelection is also viewed as a test of the one-year performance of Bhagwant Mann’s government, which has been emphasising its achievements such as free electricity, job creation, regularising contractual employees’ services, fighting corruption, and opening mohalla clinics. AAP had several ministers and MLAs campaign in the Jalandhar parliamentary seat during the lead-up to the election. As Congress is also keen to maintain its prestige, it seeks to defend its traditional stronghold. The Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat has remained a Congress bastion since 1999, remaining undefeated.
Prominent Punjab Congress leaders such as Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Partap Singh Bajwa, Navjot Singh Sidhu, and Charanjit Singh Channi led the party’s campaign.
The stakes are equally high for BJP and SAD, both of which experienced humiliating losses in the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls. The two parties were once allies in Punjab but SAD severed ties with BJP in 2020 over the now-repealed farm laws.
Punjab has the highest percentage of scheduled caste population among all Indian states at 31.9%. The majority of this population is concentrated in the Doaba region, of which Jalandhar is a part.
AAP has nominated former MLA Rinku, while Congress has placed its faith in Kaur. BJP has chosen Atwal, son of former Punjab Vidhan Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, who also joined BJP. SAD has selected its two-time MLA from Banga, Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, a doctor, as its candidate. SAD’s ally, Bahujan Samaj Party, supports Sukhi, while the Simranjit Singh Mann-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has nominated Gurjant Singh.
The constituency comprises 16,21,800 voters, including 8,44,904 males, 7,76,855 females, and 41 transgender individuals. Nineteen candidates, including four women, are contesting the election.
Polling will take place from 8 am to 6 pm on Wednesday, with vote counting scheduled for May 13.