Punjab’s ruling Congress was heading towards a big victory in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat by-election as party candidate Sunil Jakhar extended his lead over his BJP rival Swaran Salaria by over 94,000 votes after 10 rounds of counting on Sunday, election officials said.
Congress leaders and workers had started celebrating the impending victory by bursting crackers and distributing sweets in Gurdaspur, Chandigarh and other places.
The seat was earlier held by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won it in the 2014 general elections.
The seat fell vacant in April following the passing away of veteran actor Vinod Khanna, a four-time MP from the seat.
Jakhar remained in the lead from the beginning as the counting of votes polled in the October 11 bypoll began on earlier in the day.
Jakhar, who is the Punjab Congress President, was leading over BJP’s Salaria while Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Maj. Gen. Suresh Kumar Khajuria (retd) was at the third spot.
Khajuria left a counting centre alleging that the voting was rigged by the Congress, which recently came to power in the state after sweeping the assembly polls.
The counting was conducted in centres in Gurdaspur and Pathankot towns. There were 11 candidates in the fray.
Nearly 56 per cent of the 15.22 lakh registered voters exercised their franchise for the seat. The voter turnout was much lower than the over 70 per cent polling in the 2014 general elections.