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Congress emerges frontrunner in Arunachal
Published on 21 Oct. 2009 12:23 AM IST
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The ruling Congress party has emerged the frontrunner to form the next government in Arunachal Pradesh with counting of votes polled in the Oct 13 elections set for Thursday. Of the 750,000 voters, an estimated 72 percent voted to pick a new 60-member assembly. Balloting took place for 57 seats because three candidates were declared elected unopposed. The three included Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and two more Congress members: legislator Tsewang Dhondup from Tawang constituency and debutant Jambey Tashi from Lumla constituency. Khandu was elected unopposed from Mukto constituency in Tawang district, bordering China, in 1999 and 2004 too. “Counting of votes is to taken up at all the district headquarters simultaneously. The results are likely to be out by midday,” an election official said. A total of 154 candidates were in the fray with the Congress fielding contestants in all 60 seats. Apart from the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) fielded 36 candidates and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 22. The surprise element was the Trinamool Congress, which put up 26 candidates. Of the 28 candidates fielded by the Trinamool Congress, five are former Congress ministers and 10 are legislators from the ruling party who were denied ticket this time. The fight for political supremacy would be between the Congress party and a fractured opposition - the NCP and the Trinamool Congress, allies of the Congress-led government in New Delhi, and the BJP. “We are confident of winning as people have by and large voted for peace, development and stability,” the chief minister told IANS. “We are sure to get an absolute majority.” The NCP, the Trinamool Congress and the BJP too are hopeful of winning some seats though all of them admit they cannot form a government on their own. “Anything can happen if we have the numbers. Political permutation and combinations can be worked out once the results are out. We are confident of winning 10 to 15 seats,” a senior NCP leader said. There is no opposition in the present 60-member house - the Congress has 45 members and enjoys the support of 13 independent legislators and two legislators from the Arunachal Congress, a regional party. Of the 13 independents, six have applied for Congress membership. The political equations were different after the 2004 assembly elections with the Congress winning 34 seats, independents 13, the BJP nine and the NCP and the regional Arunachal Congress two each. In subsequent years, the Congress managed to break the opposition - the nine BJP and the two NCP legislators joined the ruling party while all the 13 independents and the two Arunachal Congress legislators lent support to the Congress.

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