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Himachal, Meghalaya go Congress way,
Tripura stays Left, Nagaland in logjam

March 02, 2003 02:27 IST

The Congress party on Saturday sniffed the sweet smell of success in Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, while Tripura voted in the ruling Left Front again.

But the Congress suffered a setback in Nagaland with Chief Minister S C Jamir's government receiving a thumbs down from the people, with all indications pointing to a hung assembly.

But jubilation was the dominant mood in the Congress after it upset the apple cart of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Himachal Pradesh. The Congress comes to power after a gap of five years, and on the back of a sustained campaign highlighting the 'corruption' and the 'lack of development' under the Prem Kumar Dhumal regime.

The party bagged 40 of the 65 seats for which elections were held, successfully thwarting the BJP's attempts to replicate the Gujarat success in this northern state.

The BJP could manage only a measly 16 seats, Sukh Ram's Himachal Vikas Congress, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party and Himachal Loktantrik Morcha won one seat each, while independents bagged six. The Congress march saw many a BJP stalwart, including Speaker Gulab Chand Thakur, state party president Jaikishan Sharma and five ministers fall by the wayside.

Providing some consolation was the victory of Chief Minister Dhumal who retained the Bamsan seat.

After the victory senior Congress leader and one of the contenders for the top job in the state Shanta Kumar attributed the party's success to the government failing to keep its promise to develop the state.

In Meghalaya Congress emerged as the single largest party clinching 22 out of the 60 seats, followed by the Nationalist Congress Party with 14.

Chief Minister Dr F A Khonglam, who was denied the NCP ticket, retained Sohra seat defeating his nearest rival P N Khongjee of the United Democratic Party by a margin of 557 votes. The UDP, which won 20 seats in the last assembly poll, has so far bagged nine seats, while the Meghalaya Democratic Party, the breakaway group of the UDP, managed to bag four seats with P T Sawkmie retaining the Mawlai constituency for the second consecutive time.

Among prominent Congress winners were Deputy Chief Minister D D Lapang, who retained his Nongpoh seat, T C Lyngdoh from Malki Nongthymai, Friday Lyngdoh in Mawkhar and C Pyngrope in Sohryngkham constituencies.

Former home minister T H Rangad of the Bharatiya Janata Party and sitting MLA from Laban notched up a victory again, while another BJP candidate A L Hek also retained his Pynthorumkhrah seat.

The Hill State People's Democratic Party, which got three seats in the 1998 poll, has so far tasted victory in two seats, including the Sohra constituency, which was won by the chief minister.

The results also sprang many surprises as Congress state president and former chief minister S C Marak could not retain Resubelpara, losing to NCP nominee Timothy Shira in a straight battle.

Among other prominent losers was MDP nominee A H Scott Lyngdoh, who lost to Paul Lyngdoh of the Khasi Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement, a debutant in the electoral battle in Jaiaw seat. The former finance minister finished a poor third.

In Tripura, the ruling Left Front romped home securing an absolute majority winning 40 out of the 59 seats whose results have been declared. The CPM-led Left Front has been securing a majority in the 60-member assembly continuously since 1992.

This time the CPI-M, the major Left Front partner, has won a simple majority on its own with 37 seats. Another partner the Revolutionary Socialist Party has won two seats and the Communist Party of India one.

The opposition Congress-Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura coalition won 19 seats. The result of Juvarajnagar seat has been withheld due to technical reasons.

Prominent winners from among the outgoing Manik Sarkar government include Education Minister Anil Sarkar, Information Minister Jiten Chowdhury, Minorities Minister Faizur Rehaman, Industries Minister Pabitra Kar, Social Welfare Minister Bidhubhushan Malakar (all CPI-M) and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Gopal Das of the RSP.

The winners in the opposition included former chief minister Samir Ranjan Burman (Congress), INPT president Bijoy Hrankhawl and former speaker Jyotirmoy Nath (Congress), while former chief minister Sudhir Ranjan Mazumdar, leader of the opposition Jawhar Saha (both Congress) and former minister Ratimohan Jamatiya (INPT) lost.

Nagaland, however, is heading for a hung assembly with no party likely to cross the 30-seat mark. The ruling Congress led by Chief Minister S C Jamir is facing a rout in the party stronghold of Kohima and Phek districts at the hands of its arch rival Nagaland Peoples' Front.

BJP secured one seat each in the Congress strongholds of Mon and Tuensang districts. The NPF made a near-clean sweep in Phek district securing four out of five seats, while Samata Party, a new contender in Nagaland, defeated Speaker Z Lohe in the Chizami seat.

Although many senior ministers faced a debacle in the election, the Congress could retain its seats in its bastion of Mokokchung district. The BJP, a partner in the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, opened its account in the state while senior politician and JD-U president Husku Sumi wrested the Pughoboto seat from Congress.

Prominent losers included Speaker Z Lohe, Rural Development Minister Zachilhu, Agriculture Minister P Enyie Konyak, Health and Family Welfare Minister Neiba Ndang and Planning Minister and Chief Minister S C Jamir's brother Imtisungit Jamir.

Counting is being held for 57 seats. Repolling was held during the day in ten polling booths in Tuesnsang district.

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