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The Reluctant King !

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The Reluctant King

NEW DELHI - Described as a "reluctant king" in his first stint as India's prime minister, the quietly-spoken 76-year-old Manmohan Singh has defied critics to emerge as one of India's most successful political leaders.

Singh's Congress-led coalition headed to a clear victory on Saturday over the opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance. His coalition was about 20 seats short of a parliamentary majority, better than his first 2004 victory.

No other leader since Jawaharlal Nehru, a founding father of Indian independence, has managed to win re-election after serving a full five-year term as prime minister.

It is all a huge change from a few weeks ago, when Singh came under pressure even from the Congress party's own allies in the run-up to the election to cede the post of prime minister after criticism of his perceived weak leadership.

When Singh underwent heart bypass surgery in January, many critics thought he would be unable to lead Congress to victory in a mammoth, month-long general election.

But backed by Congress party head Sonia Gandhi, who many see as the real power behind the throne, he has held steadfast.

Singh now has the chance to follow through on the reforms he first initiated in opening up India's economy in 1991.

With the communists weakened after losing their four decade-old stranglehold in West Bengal, Singh may be free to push stalled reforms, from privatizations to the liberalization of the financial sector.

The prime minister still faces huge challenges.

Asia's third-largest economy is faced with its slowest growth in six years, a rising fiscal deficit and increasing instability in rival Pakistan.

The Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 166 people in India's financial hub, hit the brakes on peace talks with Pakistan.


Singh became prime minister five years ago when Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who led the party to a surprise victory, declined the job fearing her Italian ancestry would be used by Hindu-nationalist opponents to attack the government.

A former finance minister and central bank governor, Singh also took on the job of finance minister last December in the midst of an economic slowdown, after naming Palaniappan Chidambaram to lead the Home Ministry after the Mumbai attacks.

This election is not the first time that Singh has been underestimated.

Last year, he stood up to his communist allies over a civilian nuclear energy deal with the United States, securing an alternative majority and winning a tense vote of confidence in July after the left withdrew their parliamentary support.

Born into a poor Sikh family in a part of British-ruled India now in Pakistan, Singh studied by candlelight to win scholarships to Cambridge and Oxford, earning a doctorate with a thesis on the role of exports and free trade in India's economy.

As India's first Sikh prime minister, he made a public apology in parliament for the 1984 riots in which some 3,000 Sikhs were killed.

Known for his simple lifestyle Singh, who has three daughters, has never won an election and sits in the mostly nominated upper house of parliament.

During his stint as finance minister from 1991 to 1996, Singh saved an economy from a balance of payments crisis and unveiled far-reaching reforms that opened insular India to the world.

In his maiden speech he famously quoted Victor Hugo, saying "no power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come."

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Congress wins eight Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, SAD four, BJP one

Punjab Newsline Network

Saturday, 16 May 2009

CHANDIGARH: The Congress party has won eight out of 13 Lok Sabha seats of Punjab while ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has won only four and its alliance partner BJP get one seat.

The Congress has scored victory in Patiala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Ludhiana. While SAD has won Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Khadoor Sahib. The BJP has won one seat of Amritsar by thin margin.

Preneet Kaur wife of former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Congreess candidate from Patiala and Navjot Singh Sidhu BJP candidate from Amritsar have made hat trick by winning their seats third time successively. Interestingly, both of them belong to Patiala. While Preneet Kaur has defeated Prem Singh Chandumajra by about 97383 votes, Sidhu has defeated Om Parkash Soni of Congress by 2900 votes.

Vinod Khanna who had won Gurdaspur seat three times lost this time to Partap Singh Bajwa of Congress by little margin. Rana Gurjit Singh who was looking up to make hat trick had lsot from Rattan Singh Ajnala in Khadoor Sahib by huge margin of about 51,000 votes. Sukhdev Singh Libra a Congress candidate from Fatgehgarh Sahib has won the seat by defeating deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal with margin of 34219 votes. Libra a former SAD leader, sitting MP was expelled from SAD when he voted in favour of Dr.Manmohan Singh government during no-confidence motion in parliament. The Congress allotted him the ticket.

The two out of three candidates selected by Rahul Gandhi have won their election. Ravneet Singh Bittu president Punjab youth congress has won from Anandpur Sahib by defeating SAD leader Dr.Daljit Singh Cheema with huge margin. Vijay Inder Singla former Youth Congress president has won from Sangrur by defeating SAD stalwart and sitting MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Thew third candidate of Rahul Gandhi was Sukhwinder Singh Danny from Faridkot who lost to Paramjit Kaur Gulshan sitting Akali MP by 62042 votes.

Akalis have managed to win most important seat of Bathinda where prestige of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was involved. Harsimrat Kaur Badal's daughter in law and wife of Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal has defeated Raninder Singh son of former CM Capt Amarinder Singh by over 90.000 votes. The SAD has also won Ferozepur seat from where Sher Singh Ghobaya sitting Akali MLA has won defeating a Congress stalwart sitting MP Jagmeet Singh Brar.

Mohinder Singh Kay Pee PPCC working president has won from Jalandhar defeating Hans Raj Hans of SAD by margin of over 51,000 votes.

The BJP has lost Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur where its candidates gave tough fight to Congress. Vinod Khanna lost the Gurtdaspur seat and Som Parkash of BJP has lost the Hoshiarpur seat by only 86 votes.

Interesting part is that Akalis had lsot almost all seats in Malwa region in the last assembly elections. The SAD has shown improvement in Malwa belt by winng Bathinda and Faridkot and Ferozepur seats. SAD has lost some assembly segments in Majha and Doaba from where it has won in assembly elections.


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