HT This Day: Jan 10, 1980 – Cong-I gets two-thirds majority

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New Delhi- After a three-day massacre of electoral opponents and winning seats at a galloping rate the Congress-I today achieved a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha the effective strength of which now.is 525. With the capturing of the Saharsa seat in Bihar, the Congress has bagged 351 seats. 

Election in 17 parliamentary constituencies in Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Orissa Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir will take place later to complete polling for the 542 member Lok Sabha.

The Congress-I’s electoral success is as stunning as was its drubbing in the 1977 elections. Three years ago, the party had virtually been wiped out from the Hindi-speaking states where it could win only two seats improved on its sound position in the South as was seen in Sin 177, but was triumphed in the Hindi States also with a tally of 141 seats.

If voting analysis on the basis of half the results is any guide the Janata Party and the Lok Dal enabled the Congress-I to romp home by separating themselves from each other. In 1977, the two of them contested as one party and had prevented a split in the anti-Congress vote. The analysis indicates that the Congress-I polled 41.67 per cent of -the votes while the Janata and the Lok Dal together secured 46.64 per cent.

This would seem to be corroborated by the election results from West Bengal. Although the Congress-I candidates polled handsome votes and was a close second to Left Front candidates almost everywhere, it could win only 4 of- the 41 seats. The CPI-M and its allies were able to mop up 37 seats by avoiding a split in the Left vote.

Among the stalwarts who were returned today were Janata Party president Chandra Shekhar, Union Education Minister Karan Singh (Congress-U), Mr Ashok Sen, former Law Minister (Congress-I), former Haryana Chief Minister Devi Lal (Lok Dal), Mr Dharambir Sinha, former Union Deputy Minister for Information and Broadcasting (Congress), Mrs Ram Dulari Sinha, former Labour Minister of Bihar, Jharkhand leader N. E. Horo, and former Lok Sabha Speaker Baliram Bharat (Congress). 

Notable among those who were defeated were: External Affairs minister Shyam Nandan Mishra and Mrs Rashida Haque Choudhury (Congress), Union Minister of State for Education and Social welfare. 

On the basis of the results declared so far, it appears that none of the Opposition parties can stake elect claim to the status of a recognised Opposition party. 

The Lok Dal has emerged as the largest Opposition party with 41 seats. However, it is 12 short of the requisite number of 53 seats for recognition as the Opposition party in a House of 525. 

Interestingly enough the Left Front can possibly summon the requisite strength for recognition as the Opposition group. The left front has won nine seats from Kerala (CPM 6, CPI 2, Kerala Congress-Mani group 1) and 35 from West Bengal (CPI 25, RSP 4. Forward Bloc 3, CPI 3). The Left Front may win three more seats from West Bengal whose results are yet to be announced. 

The Left Front seats from Kerala and West Bengal on this basis total 47. To this, one should add four seats from Bihar and one seat from UP which the CPI has won. In addition the Left Front is assured of the support of two more seats from Bihar (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Marxists Co-ordination Committee-one each). 

The Left Front total in the House thus comes to 54 seats. 

The Speaker is the final authority to decide the status of a recognised opposition party. It is yet ‘ to be seen whether the Front, which has contested the elections in alliance with its partners, will get this status. 

The leftist parties have indeed considerably improved their position. The Left Front had only 42 seats in the dissolved Lok Sabha – CPI-M 22 (17 from West Bengal), CPI eight, RSP four, Forward Bloc three, PWP (Maharashtra) four and CPI-ML one. T

The PWP is the only left party which has failed to win a single seat

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