M A I N   N E W S

Bypoll shocker for Congress
Hisar LS seat goes to Bishnoi; BJP, JD(U) & TRS triumph on three Assembly seats 
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, October 17
Already demoralised over its waning popularity, the results of the four bypolls declared today brought little cheer to the Congress as it failed to make a mark in any of them. The party was virtually mauled in the prestigious Hisar Lok Sabha constituency, which had witnessed a high-voltage contest, and fared equally poorly in the three other Assembly byelections.

Kuldeep Bishnoi of the Haryana Janhit Congress, who was supported by the BJP, won a resounding victory in Hisar defeating his nearest rival Ajay Singh Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) by 6,335 votes while Congress candidate and three-time MP Jai Prakash, handpicked by Haryana Chief Minister BS Hooda for this seat, was relegated to the third position, even forfeiting his deposit.

Bishnoi, son of former state Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, retained the seat which had fallen vacant after his father’s death in June.

An otherwise routine election, the Hisar bypoll acquired considerable significance after Team Anna, led by Arvind Kejriwal, pitched its tent in this constituency and campaigned vigorously for the Congress defeat on the plea that it had not supported the Jan Lokpal Bill.

While Team Anna was quick to describe the Hisar result as its victory, the outcome was not totally unexpected. The seat was won by former veteran Congress leader Bhajan Lal in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections while Jai Prakash had been a poor third even at that time. Like his father, Bishnoi was able to cruise to a comfortable victory on the basis of non-Jat consolidation. His party’s pre-poll alliance with the Congress also worked to his advantage.

It was not Team Anna alone which had raised the stakes in this election. Hooda was also equally responsible for it as the bypoll had become a prestige issue for him. Having insisted that Jai Prakash be fielded again for this seat, Hooda had camped here personally, bringing in senior Congress leaders Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to join the campaign.

However, Hooda was unable to douse public anger about his perceived promotion of Jats and the lack of development in Hisar while his own constituency Rohtak is unduly pampered. The deep-rooted factionalism in Haryana Congress was another factor, which worked against Hooda.

On its part, the Congress played down its defeat. Denying that Team Anna had made any impact in Hisar, party spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary said the candidate (Bishnoi) who had won had himself said that his victory had nothing to do with the Anna effect. “We were in the third place last time also”, she said and wondred if Anna Hazare would be issuing a certificate of cleanliness to Bishnoi. The fact is that Bhajan Lal had represented this seat for years and since he had died recently, the public was sympathitic towards his son, she added.

Besides Hisar, the results of the Khadakvasla Assembly bypoll in Maharashtra sent alarm bells ringing in the Congress camp. BJP candidate Bhimrao Tapkir defeated NCP’s Harshada Wanjale, the widow of MNS legislator Ramesh Wanjale, whose death had necessitated the byelection. The result points to the growing tensions in the Congress-NCP alliance. While Congress insiders maintain NCP cadres were not enthusiastic about Harshada’s candidature, as she is a former Congress zila parishad member, NCP leaders spoke about sabotage by the local Congress unit. The result is a pesonal blow for Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who had admitted Harshada to the NCP on the election eve.

The strong public sentiment for a separate state of Telangana was a predominant factor that powered the victory of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) candidate Pocharanm Srinivasa Reddy in the Banswada Assembly bypoll in the Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh. It is a warning to the Congress as it struggles to find an answer to the growing demand for bifurcation of the state.

The Congress has no presence in Bihar’s Daruanda Assembly seat, which was retained by the Janata Dal (U) candidate Kavita Singh. The result is a clear indicator that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar still remains numero uno in the state while his political rivals are struggling for survival.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |