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By-poll results Monday; all eyes on Hisar amid Hazare's 'maun vrat'

Sunday October 16, 2011 06:50:27 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Results of the by-polls to the Hisar Lok Sabha seat and to five assembly seats will be out Monday as attention is focused on the Haryana result to see how far Team Anna's campaign against the Congress will have affected the outcome. Congress circles maintain that a defeat in Hisar will not matter.

Anna Hazare, whose much-publicised campaign against the Congress in Hisar heated up the political temperature for what would have been a usual affair, has taken a vow of silence - maun vrat.

Apart from Hisar, by-elections for five assembly constituencies were held simultaneously on Oct 13 - Banswada (Andhra Pradesh), Daroundha (Bihar), Khadakwasla (Maharashtra), Tiruchirapalli West (Tamil Nadu), and Indira Nagar (Puducherry).

According to political analysts, Hazare's maun vrat and the rifts in Team Anna will reduce the political significance of the results of the by-polls.

"It is better Anna will not speak. Because, Team Anna is now making news for their own differences," said K. Sreekumar, an analyst.

"While Arvind Kejriwal wants a hawkish anti-Congress line, others like Prashant Bhushan want to wait to take a political line."

The controversy over Prashant Bhushan's comments on the Kashmir issue has also created cracks in the Hazare team, he added.

Political parties and analysts were earlier awaiting whether an anti-Congress outcome in Hisar would be a re-play of the 1975 Jabalpur Lok Sabha seat by-poll, when socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan could persuade opposition parties to put up a joint candidate - Sharad Yadav, now Janata Dal-United chief - who could defeat the Congress and boost the anti-Congress movement leading to the rise of Janata Party in 1977.

The death of Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) leader and former chief minister Bhajan Lal caused the Hisar by-poll, which witnessed 70 percent polling.

Bhajan Lal's son Kuldeep Bishnoi was the HJC candidate, backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala's son Ajay Chautala contested as the candidate of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), while three-time MP Jai Prakash was the Congress nominee.

Though Hazare did not visit Hisar, his video message to defeat the Congress was widely publicised by Kejriwal and colleagues.

Congress circles said a defeat in Hisar would not affect the party, either locally or nationally. "We were in the third position in 2009. We cannot go down from that," an MP from Haryana told IANS.

Another Congress leader pointed out that none of the six seats for which results are to be declared Monday were held by the Congress or any party of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). "It may be important for the opposition parties, not for us," he added.

According to Congress circles, the party may pull a surprise in Kadakwasla, which falls in Hazare's home state, Maharashtra.

The UPA fielded the widow of legislator Ramesh Wanjale (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena), whose death caused the poll, against joint opposition candidate Bhimrao Tapkir.

An element of sympathy vote could help the UPA nominee in the constituency which witnessed a mere 32 percent voting, political circles feel.

"Let us wait for the results," was what Mohan Prakah, Congress in-charge of Maharashtra, told IANS.

Riding the Telangana agitation, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidate P. Srinivas Reddy is expected to win the Banswada seat defeating the ruling Congress party's S. Srinivas Goud.

In Daroundha, the main contest is between Kavita Singh, newly-wedded daughter-in-law of JD-U legislator Jagmato Dev, whose death caused the by-poll, and Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate Parmeshwar Singh.

It will be the first electoral test for the five-month-old J. Jayalalithaa government in the contest in Tirchirapalli West where her AIADMK's M. Paranjothi and DMK candidate and former transport minister K.N. Nehru (DMK) locked horns.

Again, it will be a test for the ruling NR Congress in Puducherry in the Indira Nagar by-poll, where Tamilselvan, nephew of Chief Minister and NR Congress chief N. Rangaswamy, is faced against the Congress' Aroumougam.

The polls, held last Thursday amidst tight security and elaborate monitoring by the Election Commission (EC), had passed off peacefully.








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