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Congress ousted from Punjab, Uttarakhand

Congress loses power in the two states paving way for a change of regime, reports Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated:

The Congress lost power in Punjab and Uttarakhand but managed to stay in office in Manipur with support from its allies. Results of the assembly elections to the three states were declared on Tuesday.

In the two Lok Sabha seats that also went to polls, the BJP’s Navjot Singh Sidhu retained Amritsar and the Congress’s Vijay Bahuguna wrested Tehri Garhwal from the BJP.

The BJP bounced back to the political centrestage by claiming 19 of the 23 seats it contested in alliance with the Akalis in Punjab. In Uttarakhand, it won 34 seats, one seat short of a simple majority.

BJP general secretary in charge of Punjab, Arun Jaitley, said the results were a vote against the rise in prices of food items. “It is the beginning of the end of the Congress government,” he said.

Veteran Akali leader Parkash Singh Badal, who won from the Lambi constituency, was all set to take over as chief minister of Punjab for a record fourth time. The 81-year-old tried to play down his running feud with outgoing chief minister Amarinder Singh, saying there would be no vendetta. What remains to be seen is whether he will agree to a greater share of power for the BJP than in earlier Akali-BJP governments. The Akalis won 48 seats of the 94 they contested and will be dependant on the BJP to form the government.

The Congress won 44 seats, though some of its rebels figured among the five independents who were elected. Amarinder said: “We have not lost to the Akalis as can be seen in our performance in the rural areas. We have lost in the urban areas especially in the Doaba and Majha belts to the BJP.”

In Uttarakhand, the BJP will form the government. Major General (retd) BC Khanduri was expected to take over as chief minister from ND Tiwari.

In Manipur, the Congress won 29 seats in the 60-member assembly. Ibobi Singh who won from two constituencies — Thoubal and Khangabok — was expected to stay on as the chief minister.

The BJP and other opposition parties said the results would have a major impact on the central government. Tourism Minister Ambika Soni would not accept this. “We will sit back and analyse the results. Let us not reach any hasty conclusions,” she said.

First Published: Feb 28, 2007 04:27 IST