Congress scores in Karnataka, Gujarat, mauled in Andhra

New Delhi : The Congress scored crucial victories in BJP-ruled Karnataka and Gujarat as well as in Kerala, but lost in all the seven assembly by-polls in party-ruled Andhra Pradesh, while the respective ruling parties in Tamil Nadu and Odisha registered emphatic wins in by-elections across six states.

The Congress scored morale-boosting victories in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat and Karnataka in the results of by-polls announced Wednesday. In Gujarat, which will face assembly polls later this year, Congress snatched Mansa assembly seat from the BJP.

Congress candidate Babuji Thakore defeated BJP’s D.D. Patel in the constituency which has been won by BJP since 1995. Though the term of the MLA from this seat will be just about eight months, the election was made a prestige issue by both the Congress and BJP.

The Congress wrested Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka from the scandal-hit ruling BJP, adding to the woes of Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda.

Congress nominee K. Jayaprakash Hegde, who had lost to Gowda in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, defeated the BJP’s V. Sunil Kumar by over 45,000 votes in the bypoll held March 18.

The bypoll followed Gowda vacating the seat after becoming chief minister Aug 4 last year, replacing corruption-scarred party colleague B.S. Yeddyurappa.

The Congress faced a major setback in Andhra Pradesh as it was defeated in all seven assembly seats.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) bagged four assembly seats while YSR Congress, BJP and an independent won one seat each.

Of the seven assembly seats, six are in Telangana region.

Congress’s poor performance in the bypolls in the state is likely to revive the demand for statehood for Telangana with its own leaders Wednesday blaming “lack of clarity” in the party’s stance on Telangana for its debacle.

Party’s Rajya Sabha MP from Congress K. Keshav Rao told reporters outside parliament that the parties which supported demand for Telangana won while the Congress “could not give clarity on Telangana”.

Kerala’s ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) won the Piravom assembly by-election with Anup Jacob defeating his Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) rival M.J. Jacob by more than 12,000 votes.

It was sweet victory for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who had declared before the polls that the verdict would be like a referendum on the performance of his nine-month-old government.

With the Piravom victory, the UDF tally in the 140-member Kerala assembly has gone up to 72.

Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) won the Athagarh assembly by-election defeating the Congress by over 47,000 votes.

Former sports minister Ranendra Pratap Swain got 87,604 votes while Congress’ Suresh Mohapatra trailed with 40,214. Swain had represented the same constituency for four consecutive terms, from 1990 to 2009.

V. Muthuselvi of the ruling AIADMK was elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly from Sankarankoil constituency, defeating her DMK rival by over 68,000 votes.

Muthuselvi bagged 94,927 votes. The seat has been retained by AIADMK.

The Congress was elated about victories in three states but worried about the outcome in Andhra Pradesh.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the results were “good” for the party in three states but admitted that the party faced a “serious political situation” in Andhra Pradesh.

Referring to the outcome in Gujarat, Alvi said the by-poll outcome marked a new trend. “People have indicated their choice (against Narendra Modi government),” he said.

BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the defeat in by-polls in Gujarat and Karnataka was not a setback for the party.

“We will evaluate and perform better in these seats in the next elections,” Naqvi told IANS.

He said the BJP had won the Mahbubnagar seat in Andhra Pradesh.

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