Byelection pointers

Published : Mar 04, 2000 00:00 IST


PERHAPS the most picturesque outcome of the latest round of byelections in several States was the election of Shabnam Mausi, an independent candidate from the Sohagpur Assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh. Shabnam's election is expected to start the h unt for a politically correct term of reference, shorn of the pejorative quality inherent in the word "eunuch". Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill saw the election as a significant event, which testified to the strength of the democratic process in In dia. Shabnam obtained more votes than the BJP and Congress(I) candidates put together.

Elsewhere in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress(I) won the Jabalpur Central seat. Party veteran Shyama Charan Shukla's son was elected from his home constituency of Rajim. The BJP, which recorded a sweeping victory in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, had to be co ntent with winning just the Bhojpur constituency.

The byelections for the eight seats in Uttar Pradesh seem to spell the end of the Congress(I)'s putative revival in the State; its candidates even failed to retain their security deposits. The BJP won the Patiali and Pilibhit seats, decisively putting an end to the speculation that Kalyan Singh's newly floated party would cut into its vote share. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won the Gauri Bazar seat in Deoria district. Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won Nakur. The other seats were won by the Sama jwadi Party, which in the aggregate suffered a loss of one seat.

In West Bengal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) increased its already formidable tally in the Assembly by winning the two seats that went to the polls. In Nabagram it defeated the Congress(I) and in Suri, the Trinamul Congress. Both seats were hel d by the Congress(I) until they fell vacant last year.

The Chotila constituency in Gujarat went to the BJP, while an independent won from Bhadran. The Chotila victory represented a gain for the BJP, although in the aggregate its strength remains unaltered.

The Congress(I) won three of the six seats in Rajasthan. Nimbakhera went into a recount and returned a narrow 11-vote margin for the party. This and Raisinghpura are the two seats that the Congress(I) has managed to wrest from the BJP. The Congress(I) re tained the Aspur seat and cut deeply into the BJP's victory margin in Mandawar. The BJP won the Asind seat, but in Sadulpur in Churu district, a Congress(I) rebel was elected with a massive majority; the official candidates of the BJP and the Congress(I) lost their deposits. This is a development that is of a piece with the general sense of political restiveness witnessed in the Jat-belt over the last year.

IN Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its ally, the MGR-Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, retained the Nellikuppam and Aranthangi Assembly seats respectively. A recount was ordered in the Tiruchi-II constituency following allegations of ir regularities made by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) against the DMK. C. Anbarasan defeated Raja Paramasivam (AIADMK) in Aranthangi. The seat fell vacant following the resignation of MGR-ADMK leader S. Tirunavukkarasu, who was elected t o the Lok Sabha. In Nellikuppam, V.C. Shanmugam defeated M. Velayutham (AIADMK).

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalitha and Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) president G.K. Moopanar had challenged Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to accept the election results as a referendum on the performance of his Government.

In fact, disillusionment with the DMK was running high as the Government increased bus fares, suspended the sale of rice at Rs.2 a kg in ration shops and increased the power tariff. What turned the tide in favour of the DMK was the burning of a college b us in Dharmapuri allegedly by AIADMK men. Three young women students of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University were burnt alive.

Jayalalitha claimed that the results "cannot be construed as a good conduct certificate for the anti-people regime" of Karunanidhi.

With inputs from T.S. Subramanian
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