Punjab Bypoll: SAD Defeats Congress in Moga
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The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Joginderpal Singh today wrested the Moga Assembly seat defeating his nearest Congress rival by 18,849 votes.

Jain, who had recently joined SAD after defecting from Congress, registered his third successive win by defeating Congress' Vijay Kumar Sathi.

"While Jain got 69,269 votes, Sathi managed 50,420 votes. Sanjah Morcha's candidate Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal could manage only 7,401 votes," an election office spokesman said here.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal described the victory of the SAD-BJP alliance as a "forceful mandate for the agenda of peace, development and communal harmony, and a victory of clean politics over negative tactics."

However, state Congress chief Amarinder Singh alleged that the verdict was "manipulated and manufactured" by the Akalis by "blatant abuse of money, muscle, police and official power".

The by-election, whose result was declared here today, was held on February 23 and 72.61 per cent of total 1,79,448 electorates had exercised their franchise.

The bypoll was necessitated after Jain deserted the Congress to join the SAD. There were total ten candidates in the fray.

In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, now the SAD tally has touched 57, its ally BJP has 12 members, Congress 45 and there are three independents.

The SAD is now one short of simple majority (58 members) in the Assembly. However, two independents are attached to it.

The result is a big victory for SAD president and Punjab deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal under whose leadership the SAD again returned to power in Punjab in January polls.

Later, under Sukhbir's command, the party had swept the Municipal Corporation polls in the state and also drubbed the Congress backed P S Sarna in the Delhi Gurudwara Management Committee (DGMC) polls by a comfortable margin.

The result is a setback for Amarinder who has got back to back defeats from the ruling party.

The chief minister alleged that Congress pursued negative politics while his alliance was focusing on development.

"The problem with the Congress is that it has no agenda except Akali bashing. They are refusing to learn that people want results and they want to hear about policies and programmes on development and progress of the state, and not about our personal ego clashes.

"People have repeatedly rejected the politics of hate and mudslinging and voted for development," Badal said.

The veteran Akali leader said that the election result would prove to be a curtain raiser for the forthcoming elections to Parliament.

He recalled that the Congress leaders, including the state party chief Amarinder, had described the Moga poll as a referendum on the performance of the SAD-BJP government.

"He had even said that Moga would prove to be SAD-BJP's Waterloo," Badal said.

"It seems it has turned out to be someone else's Waterloo now. I hope Captain Sahib(Amarinder) accepts the referendum gracefully now and bows before the will of the people. I also hope that they learn to face reality and do not try to insult the electorate by cooking excuses for the Congress' defeat," the Chief Minister said.

In a statement at Chandigarh, Badal thanked the voters for delivering a resounding verdict in favour of the policies and programmes of the SAD-BJP alliance.

The CM also thanked the Election Commission for ensuring not only that the poll was free and fair but also that it was seen to be so by everyone including the media.

Meanwhile, Congress' state chief Amarinder also thanked people of Moga and the party workers for their support for the February 23 Moga by-election.

Amarinder alleged:"The verdict was manipulated and manufactured by the Akalis by blatant abuse of money, muscle, police and official power."

He alleged that the Chief Minister had even threatened discrimination in development if people of Moga did not vote for Akali Dal.

In a statement issued at Chandigarh, Amarinder alleged, the Akali Dal used all the money and muscle power to intimidate and hoodwink the voters to facilitate the result in its favour.

The PCC president maintained that the outcome of the by-election is no reflector of the popularity of the government when entire ministry and official machinery was concentrating on the single constituency.

He claimed, this by-election was no reflector of the public mood across the state as this was purely a manipulated and manufactured verdict.

In Amritsar, Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia termed the victory as a "stamp of approval" by the voters on the roadmap of development envisioned by the SAD-BJP alliance.

Majithia claimed that the election outcome reflects the shrinking base of Congress, despite the party's "efforts to mislead voters through false propaganda".

He said the state government will take all steps to fulfil the aspirations of people.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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