Congress wrests Phagwara assembly seat from BJP


India Post News Service

PHAGWARA: Doaba region now has a new Dalit face in Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, Congress candidate and former IAS officer who wrested the Phagwara reserved assembly seat from the BJP by defeating his nearest rival Rajesh Bagha of BJP by a margin of 26,116 votes.

Congress won the Phagwara seat after twelve-and-a-half year as the seat was under the control of the BJP since 2007. However, with the fall of BJP bastion here, the saffron party is left without any MLA in Doaba for the first time since 1997. The poll result was declared October 24 by Returning Officer and SDM of Phagwara Latif Ahmed in presence of poll observer Saurav Bhagat.

District Electoral Officer and Deputy Commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda was also present.

SSP Satinder Singh oversaw security arrangements. While Dhaliwal polled a total of 49,215 votes, Bagha got 23,099 votes. BSP candidate Bhagwan Das came third with 15,990 votes. The performance of the BJP was so dismal that it faced defeat both in rural and urban areas.

In all the 16 rounds of counting, Dhaliwal had maintained a steady lead. BJP’s Bagha even once trailed behind BSP’s Bhagwan Das who strode to second slot, albeit for a short time. But overall, Bagha eventually became runner-up. However, Dhaliwal’s total votes are more than double of that of Bagha’s. Interestingly, Dhaliwal’s victory margin is more than the total votes that Bagha had got.

Though Phagwara had recorded the lowest poll percentage of 55.97, the victory margin of its winner is the highest of all the four seats that had bypolls in Punjab October 21.

In the October 24 results, Congress nominees Raminder Awla won Jalalabad with a margin of 16,633 votes, Indu Bala won Mukerian with a margin of 3,440 votes and Phagwara’s Dhaliwal won with a margin of 26,116 votes respectively. Even the victory margin of Akali Dal winner Manpreet Singh Ayali from Dakha by a margin of 14,672 votes is lower than the Phagwara victory margin.

Meanwhile, AAP’s Santosh Kumar Gogi got 2,910 votes, Vishal Party of India’s Sonu Kumar 340 votes, Peoples Party of India(Democratic) candidate Charanjit Kumar got 545 votes, SAD(A)  candidate Paramjot Kaur Gill got 485 votes, and Independent Nitu Shutteran Wala got 706 votes.

A total of 996 voters pressed the NOTA button while 12 votes were rejected. Out of total 185,110 votes,102,378 votes were polled. Born at village Jagpur of Jagraon area in Ludhiana district to  parents Captain Mukhtiar Singh and Sham Kaur, 57-year-old Dhaliwal is a postgraduate in geography.

He is married to Sarabjit Kaur and they have two sons, Harman and Kamal. The family has been settled in Phagwara since the last 15 years. Dhaliwal had served as SDM Phagwara from 2005 to 2007 and was Deputy Commissioner of districts Taran Taran and Firozpur besides serving in several other top posts in different parts of Punjab.

In his victory speech, Dhaliwal profusely thanked the Congress high command, especially Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for reposing faith in him. He declared that he will fulfil all his promises and accelerate the pace of development of Phagwara. He said that he will leave no stone unturned for bringing a government college in Phagwara, besides equipping the local civil hospital with modern, super-speciality facilities.

Thousands of Congress workers took out a victory procession with Dhaliwal, Punjab cabinet minister Sunder Sham Arora, former Punjab minister Joginder Singh Mann and other party leaders perched atop a jeep.

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