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UPA, BSP win by-polls
Published on 11 Nov. 2009 1:01 AM IST
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India’s ruling Congress and its ally Trinamool Congress as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Tuesday scored huge wins in by-elections across seven states, dealing major blows to the Left, the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress, which dramatically won the Lok Sabha battle this May, humbled the Samajwadi Party in the Firozabad parliamentary seat in Uttar Pradesh where its nominee Raj Babbar worsted Dimple Yadav, daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, by over 85,000 votes. The actor-turned-politician’s victory took the Congress strength in the 545-seat Lok Sabha to 207. And in a clear signal that the political ground was shifting in Uttar Pradesh, candidates of the Congress, which has been out of power in the country’s most populous state for two long decades, finished second in three of the 11 assembly seats that went to the polls Saturday. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s BSP, which finished a poor third in the last Lok Sabha election, bagged as many as nine seats. The Congress and an independent won one seat each. The Samajwadi Party and the BJP drew a humiliating blank. A total of one Lok Sabha and 31 assembly seats voted Saturday. As Congress and Trinamool activists celebrated in Kolkata and New Delhi, shouting slogans and beating drums, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh asserted that his party was again becoming a major player in Uttar Pradesh. “Now the contest will be between the BSP and the Congress in the coming elections,” he told reporters here. The best news for India’s ruling coalition came from the Marxist citadel West Bengal, where the ruling Left Front won only one of 10 assembly seats. Its sworn enemy, Congress-allied Trinamool Congress, grabbed eight seats. The Congress and an independent took one seat each. Although the Congress won only one assembly seat each in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, it grabbed eight of the 10 seats on offer in five other states. It won one seat each in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, both seats in Assam and all three seats in Left-ruled Kerala. The Congress snatched from the BJP the only seat that went to the polls in Chhattisgarh. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress sprang a surprise in Lucknow (West). Its Shyam Kishore Shukla defeated BJP’s Amit Puri, a nominee of BJP star and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, by 2,178 votes. Continuing with its electoral victories since the Lok Sabha sweep, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool bagged all seven seats it contested in West Bengal, retaining five and wresting Belgachia East and Rajganj from its arch rival Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). The Congress finished with one seat, retaining its traditional stronghold Sujapur in Malda district but conceding Goalpokhar seat in North Dinajpur to Forward Bloc, an ally of the ruling Left Front. Kalchini in north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri went to an independent. The CPI-M, which heads the Left Front, drew a blank. Trinamool nominees were re-elected from Bongaon, Serampore, Alipore, Contai South and Egra. The Congress had a lot to cheer in Kerala, where it swept all three assembly seats, shattering the ruling Left Democratic Front’s (LDF) record of never losing a by-election while in power. In Kannur, former Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Lok Sabha member A.P. Abdulla Kutty defeated M.V. Jayarajan of the CPI-M by 12,043 votes. In Ernakulam, Dominic Presentation defeated CPI-M’s P.N. Seenulal by 8,620 votes. A.A. Shukur defeated G. Krishnaprasad of the Communist Party of India (CPI) by 4,745 votes in Alappuzha. In Chhattisgarh, the ruling BJP suffered a shocking defeat with Congress candidate Bhajan Singh Nirankari defeating Jageshwar Sahu of BJP by nearly 1,600 votes. The BJP won the seat by nearly 22,000 votes in November. In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress and BJP shared the spoils, winning one seat each. Congress’ Sujan Singh Pathania won from Jawali by 5,249 votes, whereas the BJP’s Khushi Ram Balnatah won from Rohru by a margin of 8,473 votes. Rohru was known as a stronghold of Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, a three-time chief minister, and the BJP won it for the first time. In Rajasthan too, the Congress and BJP won one seat each. The BJP’s Ramesh Chand won from Todabhim, defeating Shivdayal Meena (Congress) by 8,200 votes. Basanti Meena of the Congress bagged the Salumber seat, overcoming Amrat Lal of the BJP by over 3,000 votes. The Congress grabbed both seats in Assam. Wajed Ali Choudhury won from South Salmara, defeating the Asom United Democratic Front candidate Abdur Rahman Ajmal. In Dhekiajuli, in northern Assam, Bhimananda Tanti defeated Asom Gana Parishad’s (AGP) Shib Charan Sahu.

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