Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Congress continues its winning Ride


Congress on Tuesday put up an impressive show in the by-elections in seven states wresting from Samajwadi Party the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat in UP and vanquishing the Left Front in its bastions of West Bengal, with support from Trinamool Congress, and alone in Kerala.

Adding to the misery of Samajwadi Party, the ruling BSP in Uttar Pradesh snatched away four assembly seats from the party in its tally of seven of the 11 byelections.

In the prestigious Lok Sabha by-election, actor-turned- Congress candidate Raj Babbar defeated Dimple Yadav, daughter-in-law of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, by an overwhelming margin of 85,343 votes.

The seat was won in May by Dimple's husband Akhilesh Yadav, who retained Kannauj and gave up Firozabad. Babbar had lost from Sikri constituency in the May elections.

In all, Congress won ten of the 31 assembly seats up for grabs. The byelections were held in Uttar Pradesh (11), West Bengal (10), Kerala (3) and two each in Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan besides one in Chhattisgarh.

Continuing its whitewash of the Left Front in the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala, the Congress retained all the three seats, with one of the winners being a former CPI(M) MP A P Abdulla Kutty, who joined Congress recently.

The Congress also won two seats in Assam and one each in UP, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

The CPI(M), which heads the Left coalition governments in West Bengal and Kerala, drew a blank in a dozen seats.

Trinamool Congress repeated its Lok Sabha performance in West Bengal when it came out with flying colours in 5 of the 10 seats and was leading in two.

The sole consolation for the Left parties came from the victory of Forward Bloc in Goalpokhar, where it wrested the seat from Congress. The remaining seat went to an Independent.

Upbeat over her party's spectacular performance, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee said, "It is a victory for democracy and peace. It is also a victory of Ma, Mati, Manush."

While Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee declined to comment on the outcome, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said the Left parties accepted the people's mandate and would analyse the factors responsible for the reverses.

"The mandate has gone against the Left Front. We have accepted the mandate. We will analyse," Bose, also the CPI-M state secretary, said.

BSP, whose supremo Mayawati's prime ministerial ambitions were crushed in the general elections, by a poor performance including in UP, made a surprise comeback in the state.

Its candidates won in 7 seats -- wresting Isauli, Hainsar Bazar, Etawah and Bharthana from SP and Padrouna from Congress, besides retaining Rari and Lalitpur. In Kolasala, Ajai Rai, an Independent won the seat for the fourth time in a row. In Powayan, the BSP has established a lead of more than 27,000 votes over the Congress nominee.

In Rajasthan and in Himachal Pradesh, BJP defeated Congress candidates to win a seat each. BJP, however, yielded Vaishali Nagar seat in Chhattisgarh to Congress.

In Kerala, the LDF suffered a blow in politically sensitive Kannur, where Congress candidate and former CPI-M MP Abdullakutty emerged victorious by 12,000 votes over M V Jayarajan of CPI(M).

Abdullakutty, who represented Kannur twice in the Lok Sabha on a CPI-M ticket, was expelled from the party a few months back following serious differences with the Left leadership, after which he joined the Congress.

Congress candidates Dominic Presentation trounced CPI-M's P N Sinulal in Ernakulam by over 8000 votes, while his colleague A A Shukur retained Alappuzha seat by defeating G Krishaparasad of CPI by 4000 votes.

The by-polls were necessitated by resignation of sitting Congress MLAs K Sudhakaran (Kannur), K V Thomas (Ernakulam) and K C Venugopal (Alappuzha) on getting elected to Lok Sabha.

The results showed that UDF had been able to repeat its Lok Sabha performance when it bagged 16 of the 20 seats in the state.

The current round of elections were seen as a dress rehearsal for the 2011 assembly polls to be preceded by the civic elections in Kerala next year. The outcome of today's bypoll will, however, not have any impact on the stability of the LDF government, which is entering its fourth year.

The Left Front, which had fielded candidates in all the 10 seats in West Bengal, lost all but Goalpokhar constituency, when Forward Bloc won the seat represented by Deepa Dasmunsi of Congress and wife of ailing former Union Minister P R Dasmunsi. Deepa has entered the Lok Sabha.

TC candidates retained Alipore, Bongaon and Serampore and and wrested Rajganj and Belgachia seats from the CPI-M, while Congress retained Sujapur in West Bengal.

In Kalchini constituency in Jalpaiguri district, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-supported Independent Wilson Champamari wrested the seat from RSP, defeating Binoy Bhushan Karket by over 6,000 votes.

CPI-M yielded Belgachia East seat to Trinamool candidate in the prestigious Belgachia East seat, which had fallen vacant following the death of CPI(M) stalwart and former transport minister Subash Chakraborty. He had won from the seat for seven consecutive terms and the party had fielded his widow Ramala Chakraborty.

In UP, Congress wrested from BJP the Lucknow (West), but the party yielded Padrauna seat to BSP. In Jhansi, a recount was ordered when BSP's Kailash Sahu challenged the vote tally of his nearest Independent rival Virendra Vyas.

In Powayan (SC) constituency, BSP nominee wrested the seat when its candidate Dhirendra Prasad trounced his Congress rival Chetram by over 27,000 votes.

In Rajasthan, BJP candidate Ramesh Meena wrested Todabheem Assembly seat from an Independent. Meena defeated nearest Congress rival Shiv Dayal by 8,277 votes.

In the other bypoll in the state, Congress retained Salumber constituency in Udaipur district when its candidate Basanti Devi defeated Amritlal Meena of BJP by 3,098 votes.

In Himachal Pradesh, BJP won Rohroo assembly seat and Congress bagged Jawali. While the Rohroo seat was held by Congress, Jawali was represented by BJP.

In Rohroo seat Khushiram Balnatah defeated Congress candidate Manjit Singh Thakur by 8,473 votes while in Jawali former state minister and Congress nominee Sujan Singh Pathania humbled BJP's Chaudhary Baldev Raj by 5,249 votes.

Byelections on Rohroo in Shimla district and Jawali in Kangra district were necessitated due to resignation of Union Minister Virbhadra Singh and BJP's Rajan Sushant respectively after they became MPs.

Congress candidate Bimananda Tanti defeated his AGP rival Sivacharan Sahu by 21,029 votes in Dhekiajuli assembly constituency in Assam, which was occupied by AGP. Congress wrested the other seat - South Salmara - from regional party AUDF.

In Chhattisgarh, BJP yieled Vaishali Nagar Assembly seat in Durg district when its nominee Jageshwar Sahu Bhajan Singh was defeated by Bhajan Singh Nirankari of Congress.

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