SP sweeps out Maya raj


In a dramatic resurgence, the Samajwadi Party — with its campaign led by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh Yadav — on Tuesday swept Ms Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party out of power in Uttar Pradesh and left the Congress reeling.

But the real shock for the Congress was its stunning defeat in Punjab by the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine.
In UP, the SP, romping home after winning 224 of the 403 Assembly seats, will stake claim to forming the government. “The party wants Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) to be chief minister”, Akhilesh Yadav told reporters in Lucknow on Tuesday.
The SP juggernaut reduced Ms Mayawati from 206 seats in the outgoing House to just 79. The BJP’s tally came down from 51 seats to 47; while the Congress, which had 22 MLAs earlier, managed to add only six more to its kitty. Its alliance partner, Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, won nine seats.
Contrary to all predictions, the Congress not merely lost Punjab, but was also routed by the BJP in Goa. In the hill state of Uttarakhand, a clear majority eluded both the Congress and the BJP. Pre-poll surveys had indicated a clear victory for the Congress.
The only consolation for the beleaguered Congress was its victory in Manipur, where it managed to retain power.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress’ defeat was all the more severe as it could manage to win only two of the 10 Assembly segments which comprise the twin Lok Sabha constituencies of Rae Bareli and Amethi, the party’s pocket boroughs since the days of Indira Gandhi. Union law minister Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise was trounced in Farrukhabad, in third place after an Independent candidate and the BJP.
Speculation is rife that AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, who was in charge of UP, had offered to resign. When asked about this, he refused to elaborate, saying the matter “is something between me and the Congress leadership”.
A clamour is reportedly building up within the Congress to drop some senior Union ministers from UP. An AICC reshuffle along with organisational changes in UP and Punjab are also on the cards.
In Punjab, contrary to all predictions, the Akalis made history by returning to power. This is the first time in four decades that an incumbent has been re-elected.
The Congress’ electoral woes did not end there. It also lost power in Goa to the BJP, led by Manohar Parrikar.
In a seesaw battle in Uttarakhand, a clear picture is yet to emerge. The Congress won 32 seats, and the BJP 31. Three BSP MLAs and four others hold the key to power in that state.
Uttarakhand’s BJP chief minister B.C. Khanduri lost from Kotdwar, but the party’s fightback, despite grave corruption charges against former CM Ramesh Pokhriyal, also stunned the Congress. All predictions had indicated a Congress sweep. The BJP has convened a parliamentary board meeting to take stock of the Uttarakhand situation.

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