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Cong has Raj, superstars to thank for extra seats

Cong has Raj, superstars to thank for extra seats

Author: Arati R Jerath
Publication: DNA (Daily News & Analysis)
Date: May 19, 2009
URL: http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1257021

The Congress-led UPA has three men to thank for its seat surge in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls: Raj Thackeray, Chiranjeevi, and Vijayakanth. They helped the victorious alliance win nearly 50 more seats in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu than anyone would have expected, as a result of which the UPA ended up with 262 seats, against the 222 it won in 2004.

The big story is in Andhra Pradesh, where matinee idol Chiranjeevi single-handedly took the Congress from defeat to victory and shattered Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu's dreams. An analysis of the results reveals that the Chiranjeevi factor decimated the TDP in 26 constituencies. The Congress netted 33 seats, four more than in 2004.

The Andhra Pradesh results are an irony of these elections. The Congress registered a drop of 3.84% in vote share but an increase of four seats, while the TDP's vote share plummeted 14.92% and it won one more seat. If the vote share change of the two main parties is added, it is obvious where Chiranjeevi's 17% vote share came from and which party he hit.

The other actor who rescued the UPA was Vijayakanth, who scripted history in a state known for pendulum swings.

For the first time in 23 years, the Tamil Nadu verdict was split, with the DMK-Congress combine picking up 26 seats and the AIADMK-led alliance having to settle for 13.

Vijayakanth's DMDK helped the Congress-DMK combine win in 14 constituencies, including P Chidambaram's hotly contested Sivaganga. In seven others, Jayalalithaa's AIADMK alliance was precariously poised till the very end. Ultimately, it won those seats, but by narrow margins. The final tally for the UPA was 26, 18 to the DMK and eight to the Congress, in a state where the ruling alliance feared a wipe-out.

The vote share figures tell a strange story in this state too. The DMK and the Congress registered an increase in vote shares but failed to sweep the state as in 2004, when their Democratic Progressive Alliance (which included the PMK and MDMK) won all 39 seats. The AIADMK's vote share dropped by 2.79% but the party won nine seats, unlike the duck five years ago.

The third game-changer was Raj. His Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) did exactly what it was expected to do. It cut into Shiv Sena-BJP votes and helped the Congress-NCP alliance to victory in 10 constituencies. Considering that the MNS contested only 12 seats, its delivery for the Congress-NCP was almost 100%. The UPA registered a spectacular second successive sweep in Mumbai and won Pune and Thane thanks to Raj.

The vote share picture is interesting here too. The Congress party's vote share fell 4.11% in Maharashtra but its seat tally rose by four, to 13. In contrast, the NCP's vote share is up by a slender 0.97% but its seat tally came down by one, to eight.


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