Setback For Cong In LS Bypolls

New Delhi, September 29: | Updated: Sep 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Congress has suffered a reverse when it lost bye-elections for two crucial Lok Sabha seats of Ernakulam in Kerala and Solapur in Maharashtra, vacated by chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, where it lost by a huge margin. However, the results of the by-polls for six Assembly constituencies spread across five states were mixed. The bypolls were held last week and the counting took place on Monday.

Thanks to bitter infighting resulting in veteran leader K Karunakarans open rebellion against party candidate MO John, the Congress was humbled in the prestigious Ernakulam seat where it lost to CPM-backed Independent Sebastian Paul by a margin of 22,134 votes.

In what is seen as a major blow to Kerala chief minister AK Antony, the Congress candidate, handpicked by him, lost the pocket borough of the ruling United Democratic Front, which it had won by over a lakh votes in the Lok Sabha polls in 1999. The poll result is seen as a victory for disgruntled Karunakaran whose claims for the seat were ignored by the Congress high command prompting him to ask his supporters to work for the victory of the Left-backed candidate.

In Solapur, which was vacated by Sushil Kumar Shinde after taking over as Maharashtra chief minister, Congress Anandrao Devkate, who is also the dairy development minister in the DF government, lost by a margin of 1,22,817 votes to BJPs Pratapsinh Mohite-Patil. (PTI)