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BJP wins close to two-thirds majority in Himachal, Dhumal defeated

BJP wins close to two-thirds majority in Himachal, Dhumal defeated

Shimla: The BJP wrested power in Himachal Pradesh from the Congress, winning close to two-thirds majority with 44 seats in its kitty in the 68-member assembly. But, BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal and state party chief Satpal Satti faced a humiliating defeat.

The ruling Congress managed to win 21 seats, with its Chief Ministerial candidate and sitting incumbent Virbhadra Singh winning with a slender margin of 6,051 votes from Arki. Two seats were won by Independents and one by the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

The Chief Minister's son Vikramaditya Singh also made his political debut, entering the assembly from Shimla (Rural), the seat his father was earlier representing, with a margin of 4,880 votes.

In the outgoing assembly, the ruling Congress had 36 seats and the BJP 26 and six Independents.

Satti was defeated in Una by the Congress' Satpal Singh Raizada.

Dhumal faced defeat against close rival Rajinder Rana of the Congress from Sujanpur, the seat he was asked to contest from.Rana was once the "election manager" of Dhumal and knows his family well.

Rana defeated the two-time Chief Minister by a slender margin of 1,919 votes, Chief Electoral Officer Pushpender Rajput said in a statement.

"In politics one faces defeat while another faces a win. It will be failure on our part not to be able to give justice to the people (of Sujanpur). It's time for introspection," an emotional Dhumal told reporters in his hometown Hamirpur.

Dhumal had swapped his Hamirpur seat, the pocket borough of the BJP, with party legislator Narendra Thakur, who won the seat.

Political observers told IANS the contest was interesting between Dhumal and Rana, who had defected from the BJP, as the latter knows the inside-out of Dhumal and his family.

Congress veteran Virbhadra Singh accepted the party's defeat in the assembly elections.

"I own responsibility for my party's defeat," he told reporters here.

He was categorical in accepting the mandate by saying: "It's the people's decision to make one victorious. This is their right."

Singh refused to put the blame on Congress President Rahul Gandhi. "The elections were conducted under my leadership and I accept our defeat."

Dhumal's close confidants Ravinder Ravi, Gulab Singh Thakur and Randhir Sharma, all sitting legislators, and Tejwant Negi, lost.

However, BJP's Jairam Thakur won the elections and would represent Seraj for the fifth consecutive time.

Congress cabinet ministers Kaul Singh, Sudhir Sharma, Thakur Singh and Prakash Chaudhary faced humiliating defeat from the BJP.

Kaul Singh's daughter Champa Thakur suffered defeat at the hands of BJP's Anil Sharma from Mandi.

Sharma resigned from the government and the ruling Congress and joined the opposition BJP just ahead of the polls along with his father and former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram.

Likewise, BJP's Ravindra Dhiman defeated Congress' sitting legislator Yadvinder Goma from Jaisinghpur and Kishori Lal of the BJP defeated Bansi Lal of the Congress from Anni seat.

BJP's sitting legislator Suresh Bhardwaj retained his Shimla seat, defeating Congress' Harbhajan Bhajji.

Independent Hoshiar Singh dealt a humiliating defeat to BJP and Congress heavyweights Ravinder Ravi and Viplove Thakur, respectively, in Dehra.

Congress' sitting legislator Anirudh Singh retained his Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP's Vijay Jyoti Sain. Both belong to erstwhile royal families.

CPI-M's Rakesh Singha defeated his near rival Rakesh Verma of the BJP from Theog.

A total of 337 candidates contested the November 9 election. A total of 37,83,580 people voted in the hill state -- a record 75.28 per cent polling.

The Congress and the BJP contested in all the 68 constituencies. Most exit polls had predicted the BJP's return to power with a majority.

The state has alternately elected Congress and BJP since 1985.

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