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Congress headed for surprise comeback in Uttar Pradesh


Lucknow : Surprising everyone but its staunchest supporters, the Congress Saturday appeared headed for its biggest comeback in Uttar Pradesh with trends indicating that it would win 22 seats of the state’s 80.

Powered by some indefatigable campaigning by general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the Congress was poised to make a huge leap from the nine seats it had won in 2004.

After four hours of counting, which began at 8 a.m., Congress was leading in 22 seats, Samajwadi Party (SP) won two seats and was leading in 24, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that had proclaimed its potential of winning 40 to 50 seats was ahead in 19 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trailing behind with leads in only 13 seats. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) was ahead in two seats.

“Truly speaking, the trends indicating the Congress party leading in 22 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh have surprised all, including me,” said a delighted Rita Bahuguna Joshi, president of the state unit of the Congress.

That the voters of Uttar Pradesh appeared to be veering towards national parties was visible in the early leads taken by both the Congress as well as the BJP in comparison to their showing in the 2004 elections. While Congress had won only nine seats then, the BJP’s tally too stood at a paltry 10.

While gains for the BJP had been predicted by most poll analysts, not many were willing to accept the existence of a Congress undercurrent in several parts of Uttar Pradesh, where it had been out of power for two long decades. This Lok Sabha election appears to have brought the party on a revival path in this state, where it held sway for the first four decades after independence.

While the top leaders of all other parties were camping in New Delhi, BSP supremo and Chief Minister Mayawati preferred to keep herself confined within her official residence in Lucknow’s Kalidas Marg, accessible only to a handful of her inner coterie.

According to some insiders, Mayawati was looking quite grim and worried over the party’s performance. The BSP was the only party to have contested all the 543 seats across the country, but apart from the state, its leads were limited to one seat each in Himachal Pradesh Madhya Pradesh.