New Delhi: The Congress-led UPA is all set to retain power at the Centre putting up an impressive performance in states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to overwhelm the BJP-led NDA.
The UPA alliance was ahead in 250 constituencies with Congress alone leading in 198 seats. The ruling Front is just short of a little over 20 seats for the magic figure of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
Click here to watch video
The Congress exulted over its victory saying it was a vindication of its policies while BJP spokespersons were still unwilling to concede defeat though they admitted that the UPA was ahead in early trends.
Manmohan Singh will be the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after a full five-year term with the Congress having nominated him as its candidate for the top post, first time it had done in its history.
The Congress performance was spectacular in Kerala where it routed the Left Front and dealt a severe blow to the Marxists in West Bengal with help from ally Trinamool Congress.
It also swept Delhi, did exceedingly well in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and more than doubled its tally in UP leading in 20 of the 80 seats there.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), her son Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee(Jangipur), industry minister Kamal Nath (Chhindwara), Veerappa Moily (Chikaballapur), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna) and Sachin Pilot(Ajmer) were among the prominent party candidates leading.
BJP leader L K Advani(Gandhinagar), party president Rajnath Singh(Ghaziabad), Yashwant Sinha(Hazaribagh), Jaswant Singh (Darjeeling), Sushma Swaraj (Vidisha) and Varun Gandhi (Pilibhit) were leading while his mother Maneka Gandhi was trailing in Aonla.
Other prominent leaders who were ahead were Sharad Pawar (Madha), Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri, Lalu Yadav (Pataliputra and Saran), Kalyan Singh (Etah), Ajit Singh (Baghpat), Sharad Yadav (Madhepura) and Mamata Bannerjee (Kolkata South). LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan was trailing in Hajipur.
Surprsingly, the Congress ally DMK put up a good showing leading in 18 of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu while AIADMK, which had no member in the outgoing House, was ahead in nine seats.
The Congress was leading in eight seats but its stalwarts P Chidambaram and Mani Shankar Aiyar were trailing in Sivaganga and Mayiladuthurai respectively.
DMK candidates M K Azhagiri, son of chief minister M Karunanidhi, and Dayanidhi Maran were leading in Madurai and Chennai South respectively while Union minister T R Baalu was trailing in Sriperumbudur. MDMK leader Vaiko was trailing in Sivakasi.
The Left parties, which had 59 seats and was instrumental in UPA coming to power in the last Lok Sabha, fared badly. The CPI-M, which had 43 seats, was leading only in 16 seats and the CPI, which had 10, was just ahead in four.
The Fourth Front comprising RJD, SP and LJP also fared poorly and was ahead only in 29 seats. The SP was leading in 24 seats in UP while RJD, led by Lalu Prasad was ahead in five seats and Paswan’s LJP in two.
The BSP, whose supremo Mayawati fielded 461 candidates across the country with Prime Ministerial ambitions, also performed badly with her influence restricted only to UP. Her party was leading in 25 seats, two of them in Madhya Pradesh, apart from UP.
The NCP, an ally of Congress, was leading in 11 seats in Maharashtra.
The BJP performance was good in its strongholds in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Chhatisgarh and fairly well in Maharashtra in alliance with Shiv Sena. In UP, once its bastion, the party was nowhere near its expectations.