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BJP sweeps out Congress from 3 states
Sheila Dikshit survives saffron wave to retain power in Delhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
Riding a saffron wave the Bharatiya Janata Party wrested power today in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the Congress, but Sheila Dikshit survived the sweep to lead the Congress to a two-thirds majority in Delhi in the Assembly election.

The stunning victory for the BJP, which even Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said he did not expect, came as an anti-incumbency wave dislodged the decade-old Digvijay Singh government in Madhya Pradesh, blunted the cash-on-camera scam in Chhattisgarh and gave the party its biggest victory in Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP went beyond its own expectations as in Bhopal it got two-thirds majority and in Jaipur it beat a record of sorts.

Knocking down the 10-year-old Digvijay Singh government in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP notched two-thirds majority ousting several senior ministers and Speaker Srinivas Tiwari on the plank of power crisis and bad roads in the Congress regime.

Rajasthan BJP chief Vasundra Raje being garlanded in Jaipur on Thursday following BJP's victory in the state Assembly election.
Rajasthan BJP chief Vasundra Raje being garlanded in Jaipur on Thursday following BJP's victory in the state Assembly election.

BJP supporters whistle following their party's triumph at the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election in Indore on Thursday
BJP supporters whistle following their party's triumph at the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election in Indore on Thursday. — PTI photos

Sanyasin-turned-politician and BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharti romped home in Badamalera while her brother Swami Prasad Lodh lost from Picchore. On the other hand, Singh’s margin of victory fell drastically from last elections in his traditional Rahogarh constituency.

In a House of 230, the BJP has so far bagged 166 seats, the Congress 38 and others 17. In the outgoing Assembly BJP had 72 and Congress 124.

With BJP’s victory Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will have first women Chief Ministers, Uma Bharti and Vasundhara Raje, respectively. Raje won Jalrapatan seat defeating her Congress rival Rama Pilot, wife of late Rajesh Pilot, by a margin of 27,000 votes.

With results of all 200 seats declared in Rajasthan the BJP won 119, compared to 55 in the last elections, and the Congress which had 153 seats could manage just 57 while others bagged 24.

The saffron sweep was so comprehensive in Rajasthan that it brought in its way the biggest for the party in Rajasthan which had the highest tally of 95 in 1993 under Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Many Congress stalwarts, including two Deputy Chief Ministers — Kamla Beniwal and Banwarilal Bhairwa — besides Home Minister Ghulab Singh Shakhtawat fell by the wayside. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was elected by a huge margin of 19,000 votes in Sardarpura.

In the firstever elections in Chhattishgarh, the BJP secured absolute majority by bagging 50 seats in the 90-member House while the Congress got 36, the BSP two and the NCP one. The BJP had 22 seats in the outgoing House and the Congress 64.

The cash-on-camera scam involving former Union Minister Dilip Singh Judeo failed to have made any major impact. The BJP performed exceedingly well in the tribal belt where Judeo had campaigned against conversion for long.

Chief Minister Ajit Jogi himself won by a margin of over 54,000 votes defeating Leader of the Opposition Nand Kumar Sai from Marwahi. However, several of his ministerial colleagues fell by the wayside.

Playing the development card to the hilt, the Congress retained power in Delhi by securing two-thirds majority by bagging 47 seats in the 70-member House, five less than its tally of 52 in 1998. The BJP bagged 20 seats, six more than in the last elections.

The Congress faced a humiliating defeat of its Finance Minister Mahender Singh Saathi and Deputy Speaker Kiran Choudhary.

BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana accused the Sheila Dikshit Government of taking “undue credit” for the development work done in the Capital and ruled out quitting politics in the wake of the party’s defeat.

“Yes, it is right that we have lost... but the Delhi government has taken undue credit for the good work like the Delhi Metro and CNG,” Mr Khurana said after results showed that the Congress had come back to power.

“Where does the question of political future come into the picture here. I have been in Delhi for the last so many years and have both won and lost elections”.

Mrs Dikshit, who won by a margin of nearly 13,000 votes, attributed her party’s show to the massive developmental work undertaken by the government in the last five years.

Amazingly, the third force failed to make an impact though it had successfully played a role of spoilsport for the Congress.

The Nationalist Congress Party and the Samajwadi Party have managed to damage the Congress.

Similarly, the Bahujan Samaj party, despite loud claims of its President Mayawati was not been successful in defeating the BJP. Its tally in Madhya Pradesh came down. — PTI


BJP sections moot snap Lok Sabha poll
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
With the BJP having dislodged the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, the talk is veering round to advancing next year’s General Elections.

Emboldened by the stunning outcome of the Assembly elections in four states barring Delhi in the Hindi heartland, a strong section of the BJP leadership and the party’s front organisations are actively discussing possible windows for a snap Lok Sabha poll rather than waiting till the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government completes its term in September 2004.

Even though senior leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi, Pramod Mahajan and others are unconvincing in maintaining that General Elections will be held as scheduled in September/October 2004, certain ministers and party functionaries insist that advancing the General Elections cannot be brushed under the carpet.

Despite assertions that Mr Vajpayee’s observations at the BJP parliamentary party meeting here yesterday exhorting MPs to start preparing for the General Elections barely a year away is being misinterpreted, others directly involved in evolving the party’s strategy emphasise that it is necessary to capitalise on the upswing in its fortunes.

Notwithstanding the strong anti-incumbency factor faced by the Congress in at least three states, BJP leaders are doodling that the plank of development and good governance experimented with for the first time in the Assembly elections in Goa two years ago combined with fielding carefully selected fresh nominees to contest elections carried forward with greater vigour this time has been a resounding success. Interestingly, all top leaders have steered clear of Hindutva.

Plus, the gap in the image of Mr Vajpayee on the one hand and the Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the other is only widening. It is obvious that pressure is bound to mount on Mr Vajpayee to advance the General Elections.

Before leaving here this afternoon for Nigeria to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Mr Vajpayee had a meeting with BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Pramod Mahajan and Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley to assess the outcome of the Assembly elections and work out the post poll strategy in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The BJP leaders seemingly against a snap Lok Sabha poll point out that advancing General Elections might not be feasible till April or May next year as the electoral rolls have to be updated bringing into its fold about 5 crore first-time voters. March and April are months when examinations are held and May is just too hot all over the country.

Those pursuing the object of advancing the General Elections believe that this exercise can be clubbed with the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. The Election Commission has already expressed its reservations about holding the elections in Andhra Pradesh in February. That has unnerved Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu who proposes approaching the Election Commission soon.

The Congress finds itself on the backfoot attributing the defeat to various factors, especially a strong anti-incumbency coupled with acute casteism posing a serious threat to the country’s unity and secular fabric. The blame for the debacle is sought to be put at the door of outgoing Chief Ministers Digvijay Singh, Ashok Gehlot and Ajit Jogi, who had been given a free hand in the selection of candidates.

Congress leaders acknowledge that the party’s defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will inevitably cast its shadow in other Congress-ruled states. With political accountability and development coming to the forefront, the Congress leadership has an unenviable task of gearing up and getting its act together.


Elation in BJP camp
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
The second consecutive defeat of the BJP in the National Capital seemed to be of little consequence, as party workers distributed sweets, danced, burst crackers and raised anti-Congress slogans at the party headquarters here to celebrate the landslide victory of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Once it was clear that the BJP was heading for a massive win in three states, a large number of workers thronged the party headquarters, distributed sweets and raised slogans. While some were seen bursting crackers, others were seen applying “gulal” to their fellow workers. As the party President Venkaiah Naidu entered the party office, he was greeted with fireworks and slogans like “Abhi to yeh angdayee hai aage aur ladayee hai” and “Ek Bihari sabpar bhari, Atal Bihari Atal Bihari.”

Some more enthusiastic BJP workers took the opportunity to attack Sonia on her foreign origin by raising slogans like “Sonia Gandhi Bharat Chodo...”. However, realising the presence of electronic media in full strength, a senior leader of the party immediately intervened and asked the workers not to engage in such personal attack.

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