February 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India
Cong wrests power in Punjab, Uttaranchal; BJP dislodged in UP
New Delhi, February 24
Heading a coalition government in a state considered to be the BJP's bastion, Chief Minister Rajnath Singh could not revive the sagging fortunes of the BJP which yielded ground to the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the BSP. The SP and its allies have so far won 96 while the BSP bagged 64 seats as against 78 by the BJP and its allies in a house of 403.
Ending the five-year reign of the Akali Dal-BJP combine in Punjab, the Congress rode an anti-incumbency wave to gain absolute majority, bagging 62 of the 116 seats.
Chief Minister probable Capt.. Amarinder Singh, who steered the Congress back to power from a mere tally of 14 seats in the last elections, himself won from Patiala town seat.
In the newly-carved Uttaranchal state, the Congress managed to edge the BJP out of power, crossing the half-way mark just by one in a house of 70.
The ruling BJP suffered the embarrassment of former Chief Minister Nityanand Swami tasting defeat in Lakshman Chowk constituency in Dehra Dun.
In the bye-elections held simultaneously, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda won from Kanakpura Lok Sabha constituency. AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa and Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi emerged victorious from Andipatti and Rajkot assembly constituencies respectively.
People's verdict against corruption: Amarinder
Chandigarh, Feb 24
"Two main issues attracted the voters towards the Congress—corruption of the Badal government and its non-governance," Mr Amarinder Singh told reporters here.
Asked if anti-incumbency factor could also have played a role in the Congress' favour, he said that "it seems to have played some role, which of course, has gone in our favour."
Mr Amarinder Singh, whose party had been given a clear majority in the recently conducted exit polls, said his party would commit itself to revive the state's "shattered" economy and put the state on the road to development.
He said that the Congress Legislature Party would meet on Tuesday and decide the chief-ministerial candidate. Among others, the CLP is likely to be attended by senior party leaders, including Moti Lal Vora, Ambika Soni, Ahmed Patel and Hari Prasad.
He hoped that there would not be any hurdle in the selection of the candidate.
Mr Amarinder Singh said the people of the state had also voted for the party knowing very well its "secular credentials."
He said that soon after his party would take over the reigns, among its priorities would be looking into the corruption in the Punjab Public Service Commission. "Also, Parkash Singh Badal will have to explain his assets amounting to Rs 3500 crore," he said.
When contacted by reporters at his residence here to know about the reactions on his party's performance, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal declined to meet them.
Meanwhile, senior Panthic Morcha leader Tohra visited the Election Commission's office here, alleging that the EC had declared SAD candidate and Surjit Singh Barnala's son Gaganjit Singh's result from Dhuri constituency in the seventh round itself.
"There were four more rounds to go and how could they declare him elected in the seventh round itself," Tohra said in his complaint to the commission. However, on verifying the facts, the commission dismissed Tohra's complaint as "baseless".
Asked by reporters about the poor show put up by the Panthic Morcha in these elections, Tohra said, "We did not have the required money, which is needed to win an election".
BJP not to stake claim, says Rajnath
Lucknow, Feb 24
He told reporters he would be meeting the Governor to hand over resignation following defeat of his party and allies.
"We are not going to stake claim as of now," Singh said, adding he would discuss with allies the future course of action and examine reasons for the "unexpected results".
He said because of the fractured verdict, the state would witness political instability "for months".
Taking "full responsibility" for the debacle, he, however, said: "One year was not enough for me to change the situation in a big state like UP."
He refused to comment whether frequent change of Chief Ministers had affected the BJP's prospects.
"There cannot be one reason for the defeat. If we have not won, I take all responsibility as I was heading the government," he said.
To a question, Mr Rajnath Singh said it was for the Governor to decide whom to invite to form the government. PTI
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