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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

AAP surge in Punjab, Modi wave in Hry & Himachal

Navneet Sharma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 17, 2014
First Published: 11:22 IST(17/5/2014) | Last Updated: 09:58 IST(18/5/2014)

The pan-India Modi magic failed to click in Punjab, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief strategist suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress in Amritsar, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opened its account in the Lok Sabha by winning four of the 13 seats on the strength of the public ire against the state and central regimes.

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The only consolation for the ruling alliance, which won five seats in 2009, was that it bettered the tally to six (four Shiromani Akali Dal and two BJP) but the Congress slipped to a worse performance, as it could pick only three seats against eight in last parliamentary election.

Its state party president Partap Singh Bajwa and heavy weights Preneet Kaur, Ambika Soni, and Sunil Jakhar were among the losers.

Much to the SAD’s embarrassment in the Badal citadel of Bathinda, sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur, wife of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, barely scraped through against Manpreet Singh Badal of the Congress.

The rookie AAP burst into the state’s political scene as a formidable third force with 25% vote share, damaging both the Congress and the SAD-BJP on most seats.

Comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann led the AAP surge, trouncing Akali stalwart Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and sitting Congress MP Vijay Inder Singh Singla in Sangrur.

His victory margin of more than 2-lakh votes was highest in the state. Punjab is the only state where the AAP made a dream debut, while drawing blank elsewhere in the country.

Of the 34 seats in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh, the BJP and allies have won 21, a big jump from four in 2009.

While the BJP won all four seats in Himachal Pradesh, its showing was equally striking in Haryana, where it won seven of the eight seats contested.

He will fly to Delhi on Saturday for talks with senior partymen and then journey to Varanasi later in the evening to offer thanks in the temple town.

At the time of going to print, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was leading or had won in 339 seats, with the BJP alone at 282, comfortably crossing the 272 halfway mark needed to form the government.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was limping in at 57, heading for its worst-ever tally. Leads and results from all 543 seats were in.

The BJP-led alliance swept the electorally key state of Uttar Pradesh, leading or winning in a stunning 73 of the 80 seats, its campaign orchestrated by Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah.
 
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, which runs the state government, won just a handful of seats and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was wiped out.

In Bihar, the BJP was leading in 31 of the 40 seats, and in the nation’s capital, the BJP was set for a clean sweep in all seven seats.

Congratulations came in from across the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom, which had in the past shunned Modi over riots that happened in Gujarat under his watch in 2002.

In contrast, there was gloom in the Congress camp as many prominent ministers lost or were heading for defeat, including Sushilkumar Shinde, Kapil Sibal and Sachin Pilot. Arun Jaitley was a prominent loser on the BJP side, undone by anti-incumbency against the ruling Akali Dal in Amritsar.

The big winners included J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, which led in 37 of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which was leading in 34 of the 42 seats in West Bengal.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which stunned everyone by winning the Delhi assembly last year, made an encouraging Lok Sabha debut, grabbing a handful of seats in Punjab. But its chief, Arvind Kejriwal, fell well short of Modi in Varanasi.

Friday’s counting exercise brings down the curtain on a gargantuan poll process that began on March 5 with the announcement of the poll schedule.

A record 66.4% people turned out to cast their votes in nine phases of the world’s biggest election held between April 7 and May 12.

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