It would have been hard to believe if you were told that Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi would be defeated by a mobile phone repair shop worker. But it is now true.
Labh Singh Ugoke, Aam Aadmi Party's candidate from Punjab's Bhadaur, sprung a big and surprising defeat to Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. The 35-year-old AAP candidate, who belongs to a very poor family, has created history by defeating Channi by around 37,500 votes.
Labh Singh has studied till class 12th. He has done a plumber's course but he has been working at a mobile phone repairing shop. He joined AAP in 2013 and lives in a two-room house with his parents, wife, and two children. His father is a driver and mother is a sweeper.
While it might have come as a surprise to others, Labh Singh was confident of victory from the beginning. After getting the ticket, he had claimed that he would create history by defeating Channi. Now he has created history.
In a conversation with Outlook, Labh Singh said, "Channi was bound to lose from Bhadaur, but we never imagined that people of Bhadaur would give us such a big lead. People of Bhadaur have always done well.”
Labh Singh added that he has got around 1,500 calls since winning the election but he could not pick up those calls. He further said that Punjabis from all over the world are giving their love to AAP and news of his victory is floating around in languages that he does not even understand.
Labh Singh said, "I am a volunteer of the party. I will stand wherever Arvind ji and Bhagwant Man ji impose my duty. I will always be a common man as I am now. My image will always remain the same."
In the affidavit submitted to the Election Commission, Labh Singh mentioned a Hero Honda motorcycle as his asset.
“I bought the motorcycle about eight years ago, while Channi's son has a car worth Rs 2 crore," said Labh Singh.
This is in contrast to Channi who has movable and immovable assets worth Rs 7.97 crore. His wife Kamaljeet Kaur also has movable and immovable assets worth Rs 4.19 crore. The two of them own four Fortuner vehicles. Moreover, Channi has residential accommodation worth more than Rs 4 crore, whereas his wife also has a residence of around Rs 2,27,85,000.
Labh Singh further claimed that he was offered money to retreat. He said, “I was offered Rs 5 crore to retreat. The audio is with me. But we are fighting a battle to change the system, so nothing can change my conscience. It is the fight of 'kullis' with the Palace-people. The belligerent people of Bhadaur defeated the capitalist Channi with a huge margin."
There is an interesting parallel between political careers of Channi and Labh Singh, who has now been hailed as a "giant killer" after defeating the chief minister. Just like Labh Singh, Channi had also emerged as a "giant killer" in 2007 when he defeated Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu from Chamkaur Sahib, who was a stalwart of the Shiromani Akali Dal.
The woes for the three-term legislator Channi are two-fold. He was also defeated in his home constituency of Chamkaur Sahib. AAP's candidate, an eye surgeon named Charanjit Singh, defeated Channi by a margin of almost 8,000 votes.