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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2615

Mini General Elections bring smile to Congress, despondency to the BJP

By M Rama Rao - India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 09 December ( India's mini-general election spanning five states has thrown up a mixed bag pleasing and disappointing in equal measure the two major players – the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). These results will pave the way for an early Lok Sabha election.

The Congress party, which feared the backlash on account of Mumbai terror attacks, created a record by winning the Delhi for the third time. It also stormed back to power in the far away north-eastern state of Mizoram on the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. And as a bonus, wrested power from the BJP in Rajasthan after five-years in wilderness.

On its part, the BJP retained power in Madhya Pradesh and adjoining Chattisgarh by overcoming the anti-incumbency handicap. If the disarray in the Congress ranks contributed to these victories, it is the internal rebellion that led to the downfall of the BJP government in Rajasthan. There were as many as 60 BJP rebels in the fray and they nullified whatever positive vibes were there for the chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The only satisfaction for her is that the Congress was made to run for its money and even then garnered just one percent popular vote more than the BJP. AICC General Secretary Ashok Gehlot, who spearheaded the party's campaign in the state, has won from Sardarpura.

Congress in Delhi bagged majority in the 70-member assembly. Chief Minister Sheila Dixit achieved a rare hat trick; she and five of her cabinet colleagues won their seats with effortless ease. She gives credit for the victory to her development plank and scandal free government she had provided.

The BJP flashed the terror card especially after the November 26 Mumbai attacks. Voters were not impressed in Delhi, which witnessed a series of serial blasts. The victory for Congress in Mizoram is very sweet indeed. It is back in power after a decade; the outgoing chief minister Zoramthanga lost in the two constituencies from where he had contested while Congress party's chief ministerial candidate, and two-time chief minister Lal Thanhawla won from both Serchhip and South Tuipui seats. The crorepatis tag he carries lightly did not become his albatross.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan defeated his Congress rival Mahesh Rajput by a margin of nearly 40,000 votes from Budhni seat. The state recorded a 60 per cent turnout of voters on November 27, just a day after the Mumbai terror attacks.

Congress stalwarts Jamuna Devi (Kukshi), Subhash Yadav (Kahrawat), Hazari Lal Raghuvanshi (Seonimalwa) have trailed. So did the BJP ministers Gauru Shankar Shejwar (Sanchi) and Kailash Chawla (Manasa) were also behind in the vote count. The State Congress President Suresh Pachauri, who literally paradropped in Bhopal to lead the party at the hustings, has owned moral responsibility for the defeat.

Uma Bharti, the sexy sanyasin as she is termed by the tabloid media, tasted defeat in her home turf, Tikamgarh and thus her hopes of taking revenge on BJP for expelling her have been buried in the ballot box. She lost to Congress' Yadvendra Singh by a margin of 9,828 votes. Most of her Bharatiya Janshakti Party (BJSP) nominees were rejected. Only five of the 213 in the fray have won.

At the start of campaigning, Uma Bharti took a public vow that she would "retire" to Kedarnath in the Himalayas if the BJP wins in MP. Now it is to be seen whether she would do fulfil her vow.

BJP's Chattisgarh victory is a personal triumph for the chief minister Raman Singh, who with his low key style of functioning, has carved out his own constituency in the predominantly tribal state. His main rival and former chief minister Ajit Jogi, who had campaigned from a wheel chair and his wife Renu, have won from Marwahi and Kota seats.

Chhattisgarh had two-phased polls for 90 seats on November 14 and 20. It recorded 55% turn out in the first phase and 68% turnout in the second round.

EC Plans For LS Poll

Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami said there is no "particular interest" to advance the Lok Sabha polls unless absolutely necessary. He said these elections would be held on schedule in April-May next year.

'The Lok Sabha elections are likely to be held between mid-April and mid-May.... We have no particular interest in advancing it unless there is an absolutely great need for that', he said as mini general election results were pouring in. He added that as a convention the elections are normally held just before the government's term ends.

Asked whether the elections would be held 'only' in April-May, Gopalaswami replied: 'There are no procedural difficulties in holding them earlier'.

But political circles aver that buoyed by the verdict particularly in Delhi, the Congress will like to advance the Lok Sabha polls to February.

- Asian Tribune -

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