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Cong voted out as SAD-BJP storms back to power in Punjab
February 27, 2007 08:55 IST
Last Updated: February 27, 2007 22:37 IST
The Congress was on Tuesday voted out of power in Assembly elections in Punjab as the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, riding on a strong anti-incumbency factor, stormed back to power with clear majority.
The SAD-BJP alliance bagged 71 of the 117 seats in the assembly with Akali Dal itself winning 48 seats - a gain of seven seats over 2002 poll.
However, it was BJP, which put up an unexpectedly impressive performance bagging 19 of the 23 seats it contested.
Unlike the last time the two parties had ruled the state from 1997 to 2002, SAD would be critically dependent on BJP for survival in Punjab where 80-year-old SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal is all set to become the chief minister for the fourth time.
The SAD could have managed to win more seats in Sangrur, Bhatinda and Patiala districts but for the diktat of Sirsa (Haryana)-based religious group Dera Sacha Sauda asking its followers to vote for Congress.
Congress, which had won 62 seats in 2002, could manage 44 this time and led in one remaining seat whose result was still to come. Independents won the remaining five.
Soon after the election results were out, Badal, against whom a number of graft cases were filed by the Congress government, said his government would not resort to political vendetta.
The Akalis have gained in urban areas of Amritsar wining seven of the nine seats, and the alliance won nine of the ten seats in Jalandhar district and six out of ten seats in Ludhiana district.
The Congress campaign against corruption to target the Akalis, especially the family of Badal, lost its bite last year after a number of scams and alleged bungling in allotment of mega projects came out.
The rising prices of essential commodities also adversely affected the poll prospects of Congress.
High voting also appears to have resulted in gain for the SAD in Majha and Doaba belts comprising of Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran districts.
The Akalis for the first time put on backburner their religious agenda and spoke of development, including industrialisation, increasing trade, creating infrastructure and promoting the IT sector, which had also been the pet issues of Congress.
Much of BJP's gain came from urban areas as the party won most of its seats in these areas.
Splinter Akali factions failed to make any gain or adversely affect the SAD-BJP alliance.
All other parties, including CPI and CPI(M) and BSP were suffered a total rout, failing to win even a single seat.
Parkash Singh Badal has convened a joint meeting of newly elected legislators of SAD and BJP on Wednesday to formally elect him as the chief minister.
As defeat stared at the Congress, incumbent Chief Minister Amarinder Singh resigned.