The Congress notched up a big victory in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by-election on Sunday as its candidate Sunil Jakhar defeated his Bharatiya Janata Party rival by 1,93,219 votes.

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The seat was earlier held by the Bharatiya Janata Party since 1998 and also won it in the 2014 general elections. It fell vacant in April following the death of veteran actor Vinod Khanna, a four-time MP.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Major General Suresh Kumar Khajuria (retd) was third.

Nearly 56% of the 15.22 lakh registered voters exercised their franchise for the seat. The voter turnout was much lower than the over 70% polling in the 2014 general elections.

The result comes months before assembly elections to Himachal and Gujarat.

BJP also lost its deposit and came fourth place in an assembly bypoll in Kerala as a reflection of the people’s approach towards the BJP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has been under pressure recently due to the slowing economy and the disruptions caused by the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax and last year’s note ban exercise. The 16000 times amitshah son exposed scam also become head ache for the saffron party.

Amarinder Singh saw the result as “major step in the revival of the Congress “The Gurdaspur by-election marks another major step in the revival of Congress, it’s clear that party is on upswing ahead of 2019 LS polls,” he said in a tweet.

His party colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu called the outcome a “beautiful Diwali gift, packed with a red ribbon, for our would-be party president Rahul Gandhi”.