In politics you can’t write off anyone. Simranjit Singh Mann is a perfect example of it. Twenty-three years (1999) after winning his last major elections from Sangrur, he almost faded into oblivion. His worst came in 2019 Lok Sabha elections where he had to undergo the ignominy of losing his security deposit.
But keeping faith in himself and perseverance paid off. He bearded the lion (Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann) in this own den (Sangrur) this time and came out victorious, much to the chagrin of the CM and Aam Aadmi Party. This victory is nothing but the comeback of all comebacks.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate on Sunday created history by winning the Sangurur bypoll, defeating his nearest rival (AAP candidate) by Simranjit.
Sangrur was said to be the stronghold of AAP from where Bhagwant Mann had emerged victorious in 2014 and 2019 general elections. AAP had also won all the seats from Sangrur in the Punjab assembly elections held early this year.
On Sunday, when the count of votes finished, Sangring parliamentary candidate constituency had rejected AAP Gurmel Singh over SAD (Amritsar) president and its party candidate Simranjit Singh Mann just four months after giving a massive mandate to AAP in the state assembly elections.
While 77-year-old Simranjit Singh Mann – a pro-Khalistani leader – is on top of the world today with this stupendous electoral comeback, Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy, BJP candidate Kewal Dhillon, SAD-BSP candidate Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana and 11 other candidates have lost face by losing their security deposits.
The bypoll to the seat was necessitated due to the resignation of AAP Punjab president Bhagwant Mann from the Lok Sabha after he was elected as an MLA from Dhuri Assembly constituency in the state assembly elections earlier this year. Bhagwant Mann later was sworn in as CM of Punjab.
Bhagwant Mann had won his first election as Sangur MP in 2014 with a huge margin of about 2.10 lakh votes and in 2019 he won it by 1.1 lakh votes.
AAP thus lost its stronghold just four months after sweeping the Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls wherein it bagged 92 seats altogether.
Sangrur seat parliament has nine assembly seats and in February 2022, AAP had won all the nine seats with huge margins. However, it couldn’t retain these leads as the party lagged behind in Malerkotla, Dirba, Barnala and Bhaduar constituencies. SAD (Amritsar) had an upper hand this time.
The Sangurur bypoll was held on June 23 which was marked by low voter turnout. Only 45.3% people turned out to vote which was the lowest since 1991 general elections.
Low polling was a direct message to AAP that people were angry with the party. They preferred to stay indoors rather than venture out to vote.
Soon after winning the bypoll, many online posts created a buzz in social media. One of the posts “Mann (Simranjit Singh Mann) demolished the fort of Mann (Bhagwant Mann) in Sangrur” has gone viral.
Simranjit Singh Mann said, “This is a great win for the party. We have defeated all the national parties in this bypoll. I am aware of the problems of laborers, poor economic conditions of Sangurur and hence, I will be taking up all these issues. I will work with the Punjab government for the betterment of Sangurur residents.”
Simranjit Mann added, “Looking at the response of the masses, I was sure that I would win this seat. Our workers did immense hard work. I am thankful to the voters for electing me to the Parliament. I will work hard to resolve the issues of farmers, farm laborers, traders and everyone in my constituency.”
He said, “People have voted for the Panthic party. Finally, they have chosen sword over broom.”
It may be noted that this was Simranjit Mann’s seventh Lok Sabha contest from Sangurur.
In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he was relegated to the fourth spot with a total of 48,365 votes, which was only 4.37% of the total votes polled, while in 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections, his party candidates got around 81,000 votes from all the nine assembly constituencies of Sangrur Lok Sabha seat.
However in the bypoll, Simranjit Mann surprisingly got a huge jump as out of the total votes polled (7,10,825), he got 2,53,154 votes which was 35.61% of the total votes polled and that was 31.24% more than what he got in 2019 parliamentary elections.
AAP’s Gurmel Singh got 2,47,332 votes which was 34.79% of the total votes polled and AAP was 2.61% down by its vote share compared to 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
While Congress’ Dalvir Singh Goldy was relegated to third spot with 79,688 votes, BJP’s Kewal Dhillon slipped down to fourth spot with 66,298 votes. SAD (Badal)’s candidate Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana came a fifth with just 44,428 votes.
Karnail Singh, national general secretary of SAD (Amritsar), said, “Now, Punjab has given an answer to ‘which is the real Panthic party’. The Badals claimed themselves to be the Panthic party, but their candidate lost the security deposit in the bypoll.”
Harminder Singh, a Sikh preacher and a supporter of Simranjit Mann, said, “It is said that people hate BJP because they brought farm laws, but the bypoll results show that Badal’s party got even fewer votes than BJP.”
Simranjit Mann in his campaign had said, “Late actor-activist Deep Sidhu had asked us whether we want a sword or broom. So finally, people have given a tribute to Deep Sidhu by choosing the sword.”
Deep Sidhu was accused of violence at Red Fort during farmer protests. He was an activist, follower of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale’s ideology and supporter of SAD (Amritsar).
Singer Sidhu Moosewala’s murder also played an important role in this victory. Simranjit Mann in his campaign posters had categorically mentioned that Moosewala was in his corner. The singer had said that he will do everything to get Simranjit Mann win.
After winning the bypoll, supporters of Simranjit Mann, especially youngsters, raised slogans “Sidhu Moosewala amar rahe”.
According to the SAD (Amritsar) president, a day before his murder, Moosewala had called him (Simranjit Mann) saying that he will meet him soon.
“Now, our next target is to dethrone Badals from Gurdwaras,” said SAD (A) leader Jaswant Singh Cheema.