Chandigarh – Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday thanked the party rank and file for working tirelessly to retain the party vote share in Shahkot bye-election to emerge as the principal opposition party. In a statement here, the SAD president said the SAD retained its vote share polling 43,944 votes against 46,913 votes polled during the 2017 assembly election. He said in direct contrast the AAP faced a total collapse in the bye-election with the party barely polling 1.5 per cent of the vote share by polling 1,900 votes, only slightly more than the vote share under NOTA as well as that polled by SADAmritsar.“The state of AAP can be measured from the fact that it did not even open its account in many villages. It has ceased to exist as a political entity in Punjab,” he added. The SAD president said Shahkot election was fought in trying circumstances with the Congress government riding rough shod over all democratic principles to use excise, sales tax, and panchayat and electricity board officials besides the police force to intimidate voters. He said despite this the SAD put up a good fight and there was a groundswell of support in its favour.He said the result was however not commensurate with this effort because civil and police officials toed the Congress line and even election code violations like entry of illegal liquor in trucks into the constituency were overlooked. Thanking the party cadre for putting up a good fight, Sukhbir Badal said the Akali vote bank stood by the party despite the fact that the Congress government had barely completed one year in office. He said in direct contrast earlier during SAD-BJP tenure the Congress had lost bye-elections with margins ranging between 47,000 to 67,000 votes.“That time AAP was not a factor and if one takes into account the en-mass shift in AAP vote to the Congress because of the incumbency factor one can appreciate the result better,” he added. The SAD president said despite mass scale irregularities the SAD accepted the verdict and would work tirelessly to ensure justice to the people. “We will force the Congress government to fulfil the promises made to the people of Punjab and will not let them run away with excuses,” he added.
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