New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday got an opportunity to rule Maharashra for the third time in a row and swept the polls in Arunachal Pradesh also, however it fell short of a majority in Haryana.
Of the 288 results declared in Maharashtra, the ruling combine has bagged 144, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance 90, MNS 13, and others 41.
The Sena-BJP leaders are attributing their loss to the Raj Thackeray-led MNS which made its maiden foray in the 288-member House.
"We lost because MNS ate into the traditional Shiv Sena votes," BJP general secretary Gopinath Munde said.
As Sharad Pawar-led NCP has made it clear that it will not stake claim to the Chief Minister's post, the process of government formation is likely to get speeded up, a senior Congress leader said.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, in race for the top job, said the ruling alliance's performance was due to the dynamic leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and team work by the Congress-NCP combine.
The keenly-contested elections saw several ministers, including stalwarts like NCP's Vijaysinh Mohite Patil (Pandharpur) biting the dust.
The list of defeated ministers includes Surupsinh Naik, (Navapur), Sidhram Mhetre (Akkalkot), Madan Patil (Sangli), Shobha Bachav (Nashik), Rameshchandra Bang (Hingana) and Ravi Patil (Kalyan rural) and Anees Ahmed (Nagpur west).
Poonam Mahajan, the daughter of slain BJP leader Pramod Mahajan (Ghatkopar West) lost to Ram Kadam of MNS.
The Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramdas Kadam of Shiv Sena lost the Guhagar seat to NCP's Bhaskar Jadhav.
Shalinitai Patil, the widow of former chief minister Vasantdada Patil, lost from Koregaon in western Maharashtra. NCP MLA Shalinitai Patil had contested the poll as an independent. TV host Adesh Bandekar of Shiv Sena, who contested from the Mahim seat, was defeated by Nitin Sardesai of MNS.
Meanwhile, sons and daughters of top leaders made a political debut. From the Congress, the debutante candidates included Rajendra Shekawat (son of President Pratibha Patil) who beat Sunil Deshmukh, the party's rebel candidate and state minister in Amravati. Though, initial trends showed him to be the leading candidate, yet Deshmukh lost by about 5,600 votes.
Union Minister and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's son Amit and another Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's daughter Praniti also romped home. Amit and Praniti won from their fathers’ bastions in Latur and Solapur respectively.
Congress ally NCP also had its share of children of top political leaders tasting success in their debut. They included Pankaj Bhujbal, son of Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Chagan Bhujbal. Pankaj won from Nandgaon constituency in Nashik.
The legacy trend in the opposition alliance also tasted some success when BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde's daughter Pankaja Palve won from Parli.
Some other successful debutantes included Shiv Sena's Om Raje Nimbalkar, son of murdered Congress leader Pawan Raje Nimbalkar.
Some sons nominated by the Congress lost at the hustings. They included Rahul Puglia, son of senior leader Naresh Puglia and
Madan Bhosale, who had been an independent MLA and who got a Congress ticket this time lost. He is the son of former Pradesh Congress Committee chief Prataprao Bhosale.
MNS & others
MNS chief Raj Thackeray said that BJP and Shiv Sena's "failure" to be an effective opposition in Maharashtra is greater than ruling Congress-NCP alliance's "failure" to provide a good government.
While thanking the voters for their support, he announced that his party, which bagged 13 seats, will sit in the opposition.
Addressing mediapersons, he said the MNS had succeeded in creating a dent in the votebank of both the BJP-Sena and the Cong-NCP alliance, adding that one more cause of the defeat of the opposition was that they had failed to raise the right issues in the polls.
Also advising the Sena to introspect, he claimed that the political map of Maharashtra will change in the next few years.
Meanwhile, BSP, which decided to go alone in Maharashtra, has failed to win any of the 281 seats it had contested out of the total 288 assembly seats there.
In contrast to BSP's performance, the Third Front formed by Left parties, SP, JD(S) and Republican Party of India (RPI) and smaller Maharashtra- based parties like Shetkari Sangathana and Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) managed to win nine seats.
The Front, known as Republican Left Democratic Front (RLDF), would be expecting to be included in the government formation as the Congress-NCP bagged 143 seats and may require a few more seats to be comfortably placed in the assembly.
Of the 90 assembly seats in Haryana, the ruling Congress is short of six seats from the magic figure of 46.
With all the results declared, the Congress finished with a tally of 40 followed by INLD, whose ally Shiromani Akali Dal got just one seat.
INLD, which has made a significant comeback, won at 31 constituencies in the 90-member House.
Of the remaining 18 seats, Haryana Janhit Congress-BL, a new entrant in assembly polls, got six seats, BJP four and BSP one.
While the Congress faced defeat in 27 seats it won in 2005, the INLD, led by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, improved its tally to 31 from nine seats it won last time.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said Congress was all set to return to power for a second term and the party high command will take a decision on the issue of leadership of the legislature party.
Hooda said he was a candidate for the Chief Minister's post but "not a claimant. All decisions of the Congress high command will be binding upon me."
He, however, said people in Haryana want that Congress should form the government. "We may have got less number of seats, but our vote share is not low," he said, adding that being the single largest party they would soon meet the Governor to stake claim.
Hooda, however, had the satisfaction of winning with the largest margin of 71,200 votes from Garhi Sampla-Kiloi seat.
Buoyed by the improvement in INLD's tally, Chautala demanded that the Governor should invite the opposition parties first to give them an opportunity to form the government.
Despite BJP snapping ties with it shortly before the Assembly polls, Chautala said he still has good friends in that party and would not hesitate in approaching them.
"It is not the political relations that I have with the BJP, but I have personal relations with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, senior leader LK Advani and BJP chief Rajnath Singh. We will talk to the BJP," he said, indicating he was not averse to seeking their support.
A number of state ministers including Birender Singh (Uchana Kalan), Mange Ram Gupta (Jind), Lachhman Dass Arora (Sirsa), AC Chaudhary (Faridabad NIT) and Meena Mandal (Nilokheri) lost.
Haryana Congress president Phool Chand Mullana (Mullana), cricketer Yuvraj Singh's father Yograj Singh (Panchkula) and Haryana Youth Congress president Sanjay Chokhar (Samalkha) were among the prominent losers.
Those who retained their seats included Kiran Chaudhary (Tosham), Randeep Surjewala (Kaithal), Harmohinder Singh Chatha (Pehowa), Ajay Yadava (Rewari), Savitri Jindal (Hissar).
Chautala, whose INLD faced a total rout in the Lok Sabha elections in May, won from two seats - Uchana Kalan and Ellenabad. His son Ajay was elected from Dabwali while his younger brother Ranjit lost as a Congress nominee from Rania.
Other prominent winners include Speaker Raghbir Singh Kadian (Beri), Haryana BJP President Krishan Pal Gujjar (Tigaon), HJC president Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur) and former minister Venod Sharma (Ambala City).
Of the three senior INLD leaders who joined Congress shortly before the assembly polls, only former finance minister Sampat Singh won from Nalwa defeating former chief minister Bhajan Lal's wife Jasma Devi.
Two other former INLD leaders -- Women's wing chief Kailsho Saini (Ladwa) and former Lok Sabha MP Sushil Indora Kalanwali (SC) -- lost to INLD and SAD nominees.
Former BJP MLA Ram Kumar Gautam, who came into limelight after he criticised the saffron party's leadership for its alliance with INLD, lost from Narnaund as a nominee of the Congress, which he joined before the elections.
Meanwhile, Congress has opened channels of communication with Bhajan Lal-led breakaway faction for support and is wooing the seven Independent MLAs to help form the next government.
Party sources said of the 7 Independents, four are Congress rebels while three have their loyalties to INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala.
As both Congress and INLD are in a close race to form government in the state, sources in Congress said channels of communication are open with Bhajan Lal-led Haryana Janhit Congress-BL which has six MLAs.
It was a clean sweep for the Congress in this northeastern state, as the ruling party on Thursday secured a two-third majority by winning 42 of the 60 seats in the Arunachal Pradesh assembly. However, UPA allies Trinamool Congress and the NCP emerged victorious in five constituencies each and BJP managed to win only two seats.
Of the 42 seats won by Congress, Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and two others were elected unopposed. The party had contested all the seats.
Trinamool Congress, which contested the elections for the first time in the state, and NCP, won five seats each. Trinamool had contested 26 seats, NCP 36 and BJP 18.
The Congress, however, received a setback as seven-time MLA and former chief minister Gegong Apang and his son Omak lost to their NCP and BJP rivals respectively.
Khandu and APCC chief Nabam Tuki, elected from Sagalee seat, told reporters that the CLP leader would be chosen tomorrow or the day after in the presence of AICC observers being sent by party president Sonia Gandhi.
Prominent winners included Home Minister Jarbom Gamlin, Industries Minister Tanga Byalin, Finance Minister Kaliko Pul, Water Resources Development Minister Tako Dabi and Food and Civil Supplies Minister C C Singpho, Rural Works Minister Chowna Mein, PWD Minister Nabam Tuki and Environment Minister Newlei Tingkhatra.
On the other hand, Public Health Engineering Minister Lombo Tayeng, Education Minister Tatar Kipa from Nyapin and Tsering Gyurmi, a close confidante of Khandu conceded defeat.
First Published: Friday, October 23, 2009, 00:39