By-polls: Congress gets zero out of four

New Delhi/Hisar,: India’s ruling Congress finished third in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-election in Haryana where Anna Hazare had campaigned against it, and lost the other three assembly by-elections in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra Monday.

Of the four states, the Congress is in power in all except Bihar.

In Hisar, the Haryana Janhit Congress’ (HJC) Kuldeep Singh Bishnoi triumphed, with the Indian National Lok Dal coming second and the state’s ruling Congress third.

In Maharashtra’s Khadakwasla assembly, the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena combine; in Andhra Pradesh’s Telangana region, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) bagged the Banswada seat; and in Bihar, the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) retained Darounda.

The elections were held Oct 13.

Defeat is always “sad” and the Congress would be reviewing the party’s loss in Hisar, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in the national capital.

As the results became clear, Mukherjee told reporters: “We shall have to analyse why we have lost.”

The Hisar seat, which fell vacant in June following the death of three-time chief minister Bhajan Lal, was seen as significant as Anna Hazare and his team had campaigned there against the Congress.

But Bishnoi said he owed nothing to the anti-corruption crusader.

“I attribute it only to my father and the (alliance with) BJP,” Bishnoi told reporters in Hisar.

The Congress’ Jai Parkash had come third in the last election as well. Although Bishnoi refused to give Team Anna any credit, some analysts said the campaign had also affected the Congress prospects.

Surprisingly, Jai Parkash also denied that Team Anna had anything to do with the Hisar result. “The caste factor undid me,” he said.

In Khadakwasla, the Congress-NCP’s gamble of getting the widow of the late Maharashtra Navnirman Sena legislator Ramesh Wanjale did not pay off. Harshada Wanjale, the NCP candidate, was unable to get the sympathy vote and lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhimrao Tapkir, who also had the backing of Shiv Sena.

Wanjale had died three months ago, necessitating the by-poll. The MNS did not put up a candidate as a tribute to Wanjale’s memory.

A MNS spokesperson termed the outcome “as expected” and said Harshada Wanjale lost the sympathy of the electorate.

BJP leader Gopinath Munde the outcome would be reflected in the ensuing civic elections as well as the next assembly elections.

In Andhra Pradesh’s Banswada, the TRS won by a massive majority of nearly 50,000 votes.

Riding on the demand for a separate Telangana, it wrested the seat from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which did not take part this time in view of the Telangana sentiment.

P. Srinivas Reddy, the TDP winner of 2009, was re-elected, this time as the TRS candidate, by 49,989 votes, against his nearest rival S. Srinivas Goud of the ruling Congress.

Of the 122,872 votes polled, Srinivas Reddy secured 83,245 and the Congress 33,256 votes. The Congress too contested on the Telangana plank.

In a sense, the only saving grace was Bihar where the Congress is neither in power nor a main player.

The Darounda assembly seat went to JD-U’s Kavita Singh, who defeated her nearest rival, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), by over 20,000 votes.


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