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Dramatic turnaround for Congress in U.P.

Atiq Khan

Samajwadi Party bags 23 seats, which is a decline from the 35 it won in 2004

Infighting cost SP dearly

Kalyan Singh factor fails

LUCKNOW: The Congress staged a dramatic turnaround in Uttar Pradesh as it swept aside all projections to record its best performance in an election in the State in the last 20 years.

The tally of 21 seats was more than double its numbers in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, when it won nine seats.

Steep decline

If the Congress enhanced its political credibility, the Samajwadi Party turned out to be the biggest loser. Though Mulayam Singh’s party won the largest number of 23 seats, its tally showed a steep decline from the 35 won in 2004.

The party appeared to have payed a heavy price for infighting among its satraps and Mr. Singh’s tie-up with Kalyan Singh. While the Muslims apparently deserted the party, the Kalyan Singh factor also did not create magic on the OBC front.

The people’s verdict also did not measure up to the political ambitions of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. Although the BSP too won 21 seats, its tally increased by only two from 19 in 2004.

Political observers here are already hinting that after the not-so encouraging results, the BSP president would revert to her Dalit agenda, considering that her social engineering formula failed this time round.

Dip in BJP performance

The Bharatiya Janata Party and its ally, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), together accounted for 13 seats, but in the final outcome, the saffron party’s own tally was less than the 10 seats it had won in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Among the notable winners were Congress president Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli, Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, BJP president Rajnath Singh from Ghaziabad, SP chief Mulayam Singh from Mainpuri, RLD president Ajit Singh from Baghpat, the former HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi from Varanasi, the former BJP leader Kalyan Singh from Etah, Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal from Kanpur, Maneka Gandhi from Aonla and her son Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit and Mohammad Azharuddin from Moradabad.

Those who lost were Union Minister Mahabir Prasad (Bansgaon ) and Santosh Gangwar (Bareilly).

The Congress clearly outdid the other parties in the sense that apart from winning the traditional strongholds of Rae Bareli and Amethi, it recorded victory even in those seats which it had been losing in successive Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress recorded wins in all the four regions of the State. It won in Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Shravasti, and Domariaganj in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bahraich, Kheri, Gonda and Dhaurara in Central U.P., Jhansi in Bundelkhand and Moradabad in Western U.P.

Shift in Muslim vote

The Congress gains are attributed to the shift in the Muslim vote as the minority community for the first time in over 20 years showed an inclination to look beyond the SP and the BSP. Also, there seemed to have been a change in the preferences of the upper castes, unhappy with the BSP and the BJP.

The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party recorded impressive gains in Western Uttar Pradesh and Rohilkhand region of the State. It wrested Saharanpur from the Samajwadi Party where Jagdish Singh Rana beat the sitting MP, Rasheed Masood, Kairana from RLD and Muzaffarnagar from SP. The party also won Bhadohi, Sitapur , Misrikh and Phulpur.

Even as the Samajwadi Party managed to retain its hold over the Yadav-Lodh belt by winning from Mainpuri, Firozabad, Kannauj ( both won by Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav), Etawah and Etah, won by the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh, it lost the crucial support of the Muslims. However, Jayaprada scored a moral victory over her detractor Mohammad Azam Khan in Rampur.

She defeated Noor Bano of the Congress to retain the seat. The SP also won the Mirzapur, Chandauli and Robertsganj seats in the naxalite-affected region of the State.

While the BJP won in Lucknow, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Pilibhit, Aonla and Gorakhpur, its ally RLD triumphed in Baghpat, Mathura, Hathras, Amroha and Bijnor.

Senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon ensured that the Atal legacy continued in Lucknow when he won the prestigious seat by over 40,000 votes by defeating Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the Congress. Akhilesh Das of the BSP and Nafisa Ali of the SP finished third and fourth respectively.

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