Chandigarh: The Congress on Sunday wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab from the BJP, the by-election victory coming as a confidence booster ahead of the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
"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," Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh tweeted. He cited the party's victories in recent campus elections and the Maharashtra civic polls.
In Kerala, a Congress ally, the Indian Union Muslim League, won the Vengara Assembly by-election but with a reduced victory margin over the CPM, while the BJP lost its third spot to a Right-wing Muslim party amid an ongoing yatra.
Sunil Jakhar, son of the late Balram Jakhar, won Gurdaspur by a margin of 193,219 votes, raising the Congress's Lok Sabha tally to 46.
The last time the Congress had won the seat by more than one lakh votes was in 1980.
The seat fell vacant in April with the death of the actor and BJP politician Vinod Khanna.
Some BJP insiders said a by-election result could not be a definite indicator of the nation's mood but agreed that it had dented the image of invincibility projected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
"It's time to take serious note of economic issues and the job scenario. If there is disenchantment, it has to be addressed," a senior BJP politician said.