Congress wins Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh, uncertainty in Haryana

Friday, October 23, 2009, 14:49
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With the results of the Assembly elections held in the three states of Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh out, the Congress Party has retained power in Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh, but has fallen short of absolute majority in Haryana.

The election results have left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main Opposition, more weakened in the first electoral test held after the general elections to Parliament in May 2009.

In Maharashtra, a state having much political significance, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance won 144 seats in the 288-member Assembly.
The BJP was victorious in 46 seats.

In the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, the Congress had a thumping victory – by bagging 42 seats of 60 seats.

However, in Haryana, the Congress could not put up a good performance, with the main Opposition party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), climbing from just 9 seats in the 2005 Assembly elections to 31 seats this time. The Congress won 40 seats.

Though the Congress is the biggest party in Haryana, having won 40 out of the 90 seats, it is still being short of the halfway mark.

Many senior Congress leaders said they are happy with the outcome of the polls overall, but admitted that they had expected a more emphatic win.

There were wild scenes of jubilation outside the national headquarters of the Congress in New Delhi.

V Narayanasamy, Congress party general secretary and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, reacted to the poll outcome, saying that the results in Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana have shown that the Congress is “the only party working for the welfare of the people.” The BJP, he added, is not just “down’ but also “almost out” of the national political scene.

According to him, the poll outcome is also a mandate given by the people for the “able leadership” of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as party general secretary and MP Rahul Gandhi.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP spokesman, blamed the electronic voting machines for the party’s debacle, remarking that the electronic voting machines had turned out to be “electronic victory machines” for the Congress.

However, Ravi Shankar Prasad, another spokesman for the BJP, said the party is “conceding the defeat with humility,” adding that the results were unexpected and the party should “honestly ponder over” its weaknesses and should act fast.

In a major upset in Maharashtra, Ramdas Kadam, Shiv Sena’s Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, lost to the NCP candidate.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the ruling Congress party will form a government on its own, after having swept the elections.

The results in Haryana turned out to be rather embarrassing for Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who had called the elections seven months ahead of schedule, in the hope of benefiting from the Congress’ win in the May 2009 Lok Sabha elections, when the party had bagged 9 seats out of 10 seats.

Four ministers in Haryana – Transport Minister Mange Ram Gupta, Finance Minister Birender Singh, Cooperation Minister Meena Mandal and Education Minister A C Chaudhary – got defeated, as did Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president Phool Chand Mullana.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda says he is confident of forming government, but Om Prakash Chautala, president of the Indian National Lok Dal, is of the opinion that the State Governor should invite the Opposition parties first and give them a chance to form government.

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