Close shave in 150-plus seats the last time round
With the victory margin being less than five
per cent in 150-odd constituencies in the previous polls, even a
swing of less than 2.5 per cent can decisively
alter the outcome in the ensuing election.
This cliffhanger phenomenon, a feature of all previous
elections, has been keeping most candidates on
tenterhooks, as they pull out all stops to gel with the
Of the 150-odd constituencies, where the contest sizzled into a
photo finish, the North accounted for 46, followed by the South
with 40, East 30, West 29, North-East six and
the Union territories two.
In the North, where electoral fortunes were decided in 46
constituencies by a slender margin, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 26,
Madhya Pradesh 13, Punjab three, Haryana two and Delhi and Himachal
Pradesh one each.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party
won eight seats each, followed by the BSP with three, the Congress
two, the Indira Congress one and Independent one.
An interesting feature in those constituencies where the BJP won,
the trailing party was the SP, except in Ghatampur where the BSP
lost in a photo finish. Thus, the factors of caste, religion and
personality resulting in even the slightest division in votes, can
impinge vitally on the poll outcome this time.
However, in those constituencies where the SP won and the BJP lost, the gap of votes
polled was very high except in the Aonla, Etawah, Kairana and Moradabad constituencies. Here also, caste and religion have emerged
as important factors, while the inclusion of local heavyweight
Raghuraj Pratap Singh can tilt the results in
Pratapgarh, according to a UNI-C-Voter computer
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress had won six seats including
Chhindwara, Mahasamund and Rajgarh, the BJP three (Bhind, Durg and
Raigarh), the BSP two (Rewa and Satna), the Indira Congress (Bastar)and
Independent one (Sidhi).
Of the three seats in Punjab, the Akali Dal won two while the BSP romped
home in one. In Haryana the Congress won both seats. In
Delhi, the only close fight was witnessed in Delhi Sadar constituency
where the BJP won and the Congress was the loser. In Himachal
Pradesh, the Congress, however, turned the tables on the BJP, winning
one seat in the state with a narrow margin.
The spectacle of a close finish was also witnessed south of the
Vindhyas in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Janata
Dal won five in Karnataka, including Chikmagalur, Gulbarga and
Tumkur, while the Congress emerged triumphant in five constituencies
in Karnataka, seven in Andhra Pradesh and four in Kerala.
The BJP had its share of two seats in Karnataka, the CPI got away
with one seat in Andhra Pradesh, two in Kerala and one in Tamil
Nadu. Similarly, the Telugu Desam Party managed victories in five
seats in Andhra Pradesh and the CPI-M won two in Kerala. In Tamil
Nadu, in a close fight, the Tamil Maanila Congress won one seat.
Some of the prominent constituencies in the South where a
close fight was witnessed include Bagalkot, Chikmagalur, Gulbarga and
Mandya (all in Karnataka), Amalapuram, Cuddapah, Kurnool and Medak
(Andhra Pradesh), Alleppey, Idukki, Palghat and Trichur (Kerala),
and Nagercoil and Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu).
A keen tussle for electoral sweepstakes was also witnessed in the
East with West Bengal accounting for 17 seats, followed by
Bihar with 10 and Orissa three. In Bihar, the Janata Dal and the
BJP-Samata combine won four seats apiece while the Jharkhand
Mukti Morcha and Independents accounted for one each.
In the Marxist redoubt of West Bengal, the CPI-M had a narrow
victory margin in as many as 10 constituencies which included
Diamond Harbour, Dum Dum, Hooghly and Krishnagar. In those
constituencies where the Left party won, the trailing party was
always the Congress or vice versa. In those constituencies where
the ratio of victory is very less between the Left and the Congress,
the Trinamul Congress, led by Mamta Banerjee, can have an important
bearing on the poll outcome this time.
Of the three seats in Orissa, the Congress emerged victorious in
two while the Janata Dal won the remaining one where the battle of
ballots was tantalisingly poised. The gap between winners and
losers was very less, but if the Biju Janata Dal's alliance with
the BJP marginally alters the voting pattern, there can be major
alterations in poll outcome.
The prominent constituencies in the East where a close fight
was registered included Aurangabad, Banka, Begusarai, Bikramganj, Chapra and Dhanbad (Bihar), Bolangir and Sundergarh (Orissa) and
Dum Dum, Hooghly, Howrah, Jadavpur and Uluberia (West Bengal).
In the North-East, there were six constituencies -- five in
Assam and one in Mizoram -- where the close contest phenomenon was in
full play. In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad won two seats while the
BJP, the Congress and Independents accounted for one seat apiece.
These constituencies were Koliabor and Lakhimpur (AGP), Karimganj
(SC), which was won by the BJP, Tejpur (Congress) and Kokrajhar (Independent).
In Mizoram, the Congress defeated the Mizo National
Front opponent by a slender margin.
In the West, of the 29 close contests, Maharashtra accounted
for 14, Rajasthan nine, Gujarat five and Goa one. The BJP and its
alliance won eight in Maharashtra, and five in Gujarat and Rajasthan
each, while the Congress won six in Maharashtra, three in Gujarat,
and three in Rajasthan. Further, the Indira Congress won in Rajasthan
while the MGP won one seat in Goa.
In Maharashtra, the margin of votes between the winning and
losing parties was very less. Now the fledgling alliance among the
Republican Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress may cause a
dent in the voting bank of the saffron brigade if there is a
swing in the voting pattern.
In Gujarat also, it turned out to be a direct contest between
the Congress and the BJP in these seats. But if the Rashtriya Janata
Party led by Shankarsinh Vaghela is able to siphon off 2.5
per cent votes of the BJP, the previous election results may go
into a tailspin. At the same time, if the RJP cuts into the
Kshatriya vote bank, then the latter may be in for a rude shock.
Some of the prominent constituencies in these states where it
turned out to be a close fight included Akola, Kolaba, Nanded,
Satara, Solapur and Wardha (Maharashtra), Baroda, Bhavnagar and
Bulsar (Gujarat) and Alwar, Bhilwara, Jalore, Kota and Tonk
In the Union territory zone, it turned out to be a very close
encounter -- one in Lakshadweep and one in Pondicherry. The lone
constituency of Lakshadweep was won by the Congress while the loser
was the Janata Dal. The Congress also won the lone Lok Sabha seat of
Pondicherry defeating the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Now, the
alliance between the AIADMK and the BJP may impinge on the poll
Elections ' 98
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