Congress wins 21 seats in Uttar Pradesh, stumps rivals (Lead)

May 16th, 2009 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party Lucknow, May 16 (IANS) With a surprise tally of 21 in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress stumped its key political rivals - Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - that had decided to nearly write off the party in the Lok Sabha elections.
If the results have jolted every Congress adversary, they have come as an incredible feat for the party that had been down in the dumps since 1989, when it last held power in the state, which has a whopping 18 crore (180 million) population.

While the SP came down drastically from its 2004 tally of 36 to 23, the BJP could not enhance its last tally of 10. The BSP registered an increase of just one seat taking its present score to 20. However, it was a major downturn for the ruling party whose entire leadership had been claiming a potential win on at least 45 seats.

Interestingly all the four Gandhis - Congress president Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul, as well as Maneka and son Varun - won with comfortable margins in their respective constituencies. While it was a cakewalk for Sonia in Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, Maneka won with a slender margin in Aonla and Varun won in Pilibhit, with a margin of nearly 274,000 votes.

The Congress victory can be viewed as an outcome of some kind of a wave for the party. Even the most insignificant of the party leaders like Zafar Ali Naqvi and Nirmal Khattri won their respective seats in Kheri and Faizabad. “The Faizabad victory was truly significant in terms of a mandate in favour of a secular party and a clean candidate,” state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.

Though Joshi lost to BJP veteran Lalji Tandon in Lucknow by a margin of about 30,000 votes, what brought a smile to her face was that her BSP rival Akhilesh Das Gupta trailed far behind her. Gupta was estimated to have pumped in Rs.100 crore in his campaign that was launched almost 20 months ago - shortly after he switched loyalties from the Congress to BSP.

Another significant Congress victory was that of cricketer-turned-political aspirant Mohammad Azharuddin who defeated his BJP rival Sarvesh Kumar Singh by a margin of more than 50,000 votes and of Salman Khursheed, who won from Farrukhabad after defeating party hopper and presently BSP nominee Naresh Agarwal. Saleem Sherwani, who had joined the Congress after being denied a SP ticket from his bastion Budaun, lost to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav.

What surprised everyone was the defeat of filmstar-turned-Congress nominee Raj Babbar from Fatehpur-Sikri, where he had been leading throughout the day. Babbar lost to Seema Upadhaya of BSP, whose husband Ramveer Upadhaya is state energy minister.

Equally surprising was the victory of Bollywood-star-turned Samajwadi Party nominee Jaya Prada, who despite opposition from within her own party, won the Rampur seat by a comfortable margin of nearly 31,000 votes. She defeated her nearest opponent and Congress candidate Begum Noor Bano.

All three former chief ministers - SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, BJP chief Rajnath Singh and BJP rebel Kalyan Singh - won from their respective constituencies - Mainpuri, Ghaziabad and Etah. Even Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary registered victories from Baghpat and Mathura respectively. Mulayam Singh’s son Akhilesh Yadav won from both Ferozabad and Kannauj.

Another prominent BJP leader who romped home was Murli Manohar Joshi, who defeated mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari in Varanasi by a margin of 17,000 votes.

The poll proved a waterloo for one time BJP rabble-rouser and Ayodhya movement leader Vinay Katiyar, who trailed at the third position in Ambedkar Nagar.

Among the political novices who won on the strength of their Congress ticket were retired bureaucrat P.L. Punia (Barabanki) and Anu Tandon (Unnao) whose forte was the support from the house of the Ambanis, where her husband enjoys a top position in RIL.

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