Congress poised to win in three of five states, BJP in two (Second Lead)

December 8th, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) The Congress Monday scored a valuable goal ahead of upcoming general elections by inching towards victory in Rajasthan, Mizoram and Delhi, three of five states where voters picked new assemblies, dealing a blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that, however, scored a grand win in Madhya Pradesh and seemed poised to retain power in nearby Chhattisgarh.And even as officials continued to count the millions of votes cast in assembly elections which were widely seen as a “semi final” before the Lok Sabha elections due next year, Congress and BJP veterans began to analyse the rights and wrongs of the Nov 14-Dec 4 ballot.

The elections took on an added value as terrorists struck in Mumbai slaughtering 172 people from the evening of Nov 26, casting a shadow on all the states barring Chhattisgarh where two rounds of balloting had already ended.

Even as overjoyed Congress activists took to noisy celebrations outside party offices in the Rajasthan capital Jaipur and in New Delhi, political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao warned that the state results were no great news for the BJP or the Congress.

“The Congress is certainly doing better than expected but not as well as they should have done to win a national election,” Rao told IANS. “The BJP is doing worse than expected and does not look like it is in the lead to come to power nationally. It is a mixed result overall.”

Nevertheless, Congress leaders gloated in anticipation of the sweeping victory in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, the country’s largest state, and a stunning third five-year term win in Delhi, the national capital where the BJP was confident of snatching from the Congress until late Sunday.

“There is no stopping the Congress now,” thundered Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily, a confidant of party president Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress was on the winning track in distant Mizoram, outclassing the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), a former insurgent group that has ruled the northeastern state since 1998.

The BJP, however, was on the winning track in Madhya Pradesh, with its candidates leading in 120 of the 230 seats. The BJP has ruled both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since 2003.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, widely credited by friends and foes for the unexpected win, profusely thanked voters in the city - a mini India. “(The outcome) is great,” she said, as supporters and journalists swarmed her house.

By midday, the Congress was touching the halfway mark in Delhi, which has a 70-member house but where polling has been postponed in one seat. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and independents bagged eight valuable seats, election officials said.

The Congress was on the winning track in 97 of the 200 seats in Rajasthan and the ruling BJP ahead in 71 constituencies.

The Congress led in 16 seats and the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) in four in Mizoram, which has a 40-seat assembly.

“We are going to analyse these results,” a sombre BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said. Until Sunday, most BJP leaders were confident of retaining power in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and snatching power in Delhi. A few had even predicted a BJP win in Rajasthan.

Moily credited Dikshit for the Congress showing in Delhi, saying she had done a “marvellous” job leading the faction-ridden party despite many constraints including soaring food prices.

Analyst Rao said although the Mumbai mayhem caused many voters from the upwardly mobile classes to go out and vote in Delhi Nov 29, they chose to re-vote the Congress primarily because of Dikshit. “Between Dikshit and (BJP chief ministerial candidate V.K.) Malhotra, the people opted for Dikshit. For these classes, Dikshit looked far better than Malhotra.”

He added: “Had the BJP put up a strong personality like Arun Jaitley as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, they would have won handsomely.”

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