Overconfident Cong pays price with six seats short of majority

Overconfident Cong pays price with six seats short of majority


In an amazing turnaround of electoral fortunes, a resurgent Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) led by Om Prakash Chautala nearly punctured the Congress balloon winning 31 seats after having failed to win any seat in the Lok Sabha polls just five months ago.
While the Congress which won 40 seats, 27 short of the 67 it had won in the 2005 assembly polls, was confident of mustering up the support of majority of seven independents to form the government, the INLD leader, Chautala has called upon the Governor to give opposition parties an opportunity to form the next government.
He has asked the Congress to refrain from staking its claim for forming government on “moral grounds.”

Apart from Chautala’s INLD which won 31 seats, the Bhajan Lal-Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress won six seats while the BJP could win only four seats. One seat each was won by Akali Dal and the BSP while independents were victorious from seven seats.

For the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress regime in Haryana, the results have come nothing less than a shocker less than five months after its heady performance in the Lok Sabha polls when the party won nine out of ten Lok Sabha seats and had secured lead in 57 of the assembly segments. The INLD which had failed to open its account in the general elections had led in only seven assembly segments. Eager to encash the goodwill of Lok Sabha results, Hooda had recommended dissolution of the state assembly seven months short of its term in August and called for fresh assembly polls.
Political observers here feel that in the event of Congress forming the next government, the battle for the chief minister’s post would get accentuated within the party after Hooda’s gambit of advancing polls failed to meet a resounding success at the hustings.
“I am a candidate, not a claimant for the post,” Hooda said about the race for chief ministership.

As lead positions were known on Thursday morning, Hooda, initially, was euphoric that the Congress would win “absolute majority”. He told reporters at Rohtak that though the results were lesser than expected the party would form a government. However, towards the evening the results pointed to a hung assembly.

Hooda won his seat by the biggest margin of over 72,000 votes from Garhi Sampla-Kiloi constituency by defeating his nearest rival, Satish of INLD.

In Chandigarh, Chautala urged the state Governor to invite the opposition parties first to givem them an opportunity to form the next government.
“Chief Minister Hooda should immediately resign as the voters have given a verdict against him and the Congress. The party should not stake claim to form next government on moral grounds”, he told reporters here.

Haryana state Congress president, Phool Chand Mullana was among the major losers for the Congress as he lost to the INLD’s Rajbir Singh from Mullana constituency. Several of Hooda’s cabinet colleagues including Mange Ram Gupta, Shakuntala Bhagwaria, A C Choudhary and former cricket board (BCCI) president, Ranbir Mahendra lost the elections in a stinging electoral response to the high-flying party campaign that trumpeted development and social welfare measures during its regime.

Chautala scores
Personally, Chautala scored a point as he won both the constituencies he contested from – Ellenabad and Uchana Kalan. He defeated Congress heavyweight and Finance Minister Birender Singh, one of the major challengers of Hooda for the top post, by 602 votes from Uchana Kalan. Chautala’s son, Ajay won from Dabwali defeating Hooda’s former principal secretary, Dr K V Singh.

The HJC president, Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of Bhajan Lal, won from Adampur though Lal’s wife, Jasma Devi lost from Nalwa constituency. Other prominent winners included state BJP president, Kishan Pal Gujjar, and INLD’s state president, Ashok Arora.

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