Congress lost its 24-year-old bastion of Jalandhar: divided into factionalism, lost to its own former MLA; Akali and BJP became weak after separating

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Congress leaders Pratap Singh Bajwa, Navjot Sidhu, Amarinder Singh Raja Warding and Charanjit Channi.

Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) candidate Sushil Rinku won the Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll. He destroyed the 24 year old bastion of Congress. Even the Akali Dal-BSP alliance could not survive in front of AAP. The main reason behind the defeat of Congress divided into factionalism is the split in the party. Congress was defeated by its own former MLA Sushil Rinku by becoming a candidate from AAP. The Congress high command left no stone unturned. Not a single face of the central leadership of the Congress was visible in the campaign here. After breaking the alliance with each other, the Akali Dal and the BJP again looked weak in Punjab.

3 major reasons for the defeat of the first Congress

1. Different factions formed in the party
Despite the humiliating defeat in the assembly elections in Punjab, the Congress is not ready to learn a lesson. Still factionalism is at its peak in Congress. Separate faction of Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warding and Navjot Sidhu is running. Leader of Opposition Pratap Singh Bajwa is doing his politics. On the other hand, former CM Charanjit Channi is working in the party on his own terms.

2. Did not campaign together
There is so much factionalism among Congressmen that they are not even ready to see each other. This is the reason that apart from the nomination of only candidate Karmjit Kaur Chowdhary, all were not seen on any one stage. Navjot Sidhu kept campaigning separately. Raja Warding, Pratap Singh Bajwa and Charanjit Channi kept asking for votes for different candidates.

3. The movement inside the party is not known
Sushil Rinku has brought the leadership of Punjab Congress under the scanner. Rinku suddenly joined AAP and even his ticket was confirmed but the Congressmen of Punjab did not get a clue. The Congressmen only remained under the misconception that the people of Jalandhar would again blindly vote for the Congress like in 2014 and 2019. For this reason, Rinku went to the opposition party and demolished the fort of Congress. Apart from this, many Congressmen left the party and went to AAP, but their Punjab leadership could not stop them.

Former Congress MLA Sushil Rinku was inducted into the party by CM Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal.  After this his ticket was announced.

Former Congress MLA Sushil Rinku was inducted into the party by CM Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal. After this his ticket was announced.

4. ‘Operation Channi’ fails again due to lack of government
Like the assembly elections, the Congress played a bet on Channi here too. Channi campaigned a lot in the rural areas of Jalandhar. People must have met Channi but did not vote for Congress. Although Congress managed to win 5 out of 9 seats in the Jalandhar Lok Sabha in the last elections due to Channi, but this time people did not trust him. The main reason for this is also believed to be the absence of Congress government in the state.

Sukhbir Badal addressing a rally during the Jalandhar election campaign.

Sukhbir Badal addressing a rally during the Jalandhar election campaign.

Akali Dal’s strategy also failed
The strategy of the Akali Dal also failed in this election. Instead of giving ticket to any leader of Jalandhar, Sukhbir Badal brought MLA from Banga, Dr. Sukhwinder Sukhi. Although he could not do anything special.

The Akali Dal was hopeful that it would reach the ladder of victory with the support of the BSP. For this, Sukhbir also played the game of giving the Banga seat to the BSP after winning the Jalandhar Lok Sabha by-election, but that too proved to be a failure.

Even the Akali Dal could not stop the split within itself. Charanjit Atwal, who contested the last election from Jalandhar on an Akali Dal ticket, left the party. His son Inder Iqbal Atwal was fielded by BJP by giving ticket but Akali Dal could not stop it.

The Akali Dal did not even get a full chance to campaign on the Jalandhar seat. Due to the demise of former CM Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Badal stayed away from campaigning in the last days. In the last days he campaigned but it proved ineffective.

The Akali Dal had to bear the loss of separation from the BJP here too. The last time both fought together, they had given a tough fight to the Congress, however, this time the Akali Dal could not survive even in the contest.

BJP candidate from Jalandhar Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal

BJP candidate from Jalandhar Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal

Challenges remain for BJP in Punjab
The BJP, which is dreaming of becoming an alternative to the Akali Dal and the Congress in Punjab, has also suffered a major setback in the Jalandhar bypoll. The BJP remained at number four here. The BJP also lagged behind the Akali Dal, with which their leaders are parting ways in the name of an alliance.

Apart from Union ministers Anurag Thakur, Hardeep Puri, Gajendra Shekhawat, the BJP had kept many central leaders in the campaign here. Despite this the voters did not trust the BJP. The BJP even enumerated the advantages of having their government here at the Center but people did not like it. In such a situation, it is clear that next year is again going to be challenging for the BJP.

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