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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 11:45 GMT
BJP setback in Indian polls
Border guard watches voters in Uttar Pradesh
There were few serious incidents in Uttar Pradesh
India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party is heading for defeat in key state elections including its traditional stronghold, Uttar Pradesh.

India polls
BJP concedes defeat in UP

Congress leading in Punjab

Congress wins Uttaranchal

Jayalalitha wins in Andipatti, Tamil Nadu
The BJP and its allies are set to lose in the northern states of Punjab and Uttaranchal at the expense of the opposition Congress party and it has conceded defeat in politically influential Uttar Pradesh.

Its defeat could put pressure on the fragile coalition government in Delhi led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

And a controversial politician and former actress, J Jayalalitha, is set for a political comeback after winning a by-election in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

UP fallout

In Uttar Pradesh, no party is expected to win an outright majority but the BJP is trailing well behind the Samajwadi Party with the Bahujan Samaj Party in third place.

The party's Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh, is due to meet the state governor to hand in his resignation.

BJP chief minister Rajnath Singh
BJP's UP leader Rajnath Singh is set to resign
"I take full responsibility for my party's poor performance," Mr Singh told the BBC.

Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous and politically most prestigious state and the BBC's Jill McGivering says the BJP's poor performance will be a blow to party leaders.

The loss could also force some of the party's allies in Delhi to rethink their allegiances to keep in line with public opinion.

Congress gains

Tight security arrangements were in place in cities where the votes are being counted.

This is a mandate against corruption

Amarinder Singh, Congress Party
In the newly formed state of Uttaranchal, the Congress will form the next government after it won 36 seats in the 70-seat legislative.

It has also been returned to power in Punjab where it has defeated the BJP and its ally, the Akali Dal.

"This is a mandate against corruption," said Amarinder Singh, who heads the Congress party in Punjab.

In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, controversial politician Jayalalitha Jairam won from Andipatti, in an election that could see her back as chief minister after being forced to step down over corruption charges.

And a former Indian Prime Minister, Deve Gowda, also won a by-election in the parliamentary constituency of Kanakapura.

Poll violence

The four states voted earlier this month with the polls being staggered to allow security forces to be deployed in large numbers.

Voting was marred by some incidents of violence but was largely peaceful.

In the north-eastern state of Manipur, where tribal tensions have led to direct rule from the federal government in Delhi, at least 10 people died in election violence.

There were also allegations of vote-rigging in the state.

In contrast, the elections were largely peaceful in Uttar Pradesh, where unprecedented security was put in place ahead of voting in 166 constituencies.

The BBC's Jill McGivering
"Many local people complained that the BJP failed to deliver the development they need"
See also:

24 Feb 02 | South Asia
Jayalalitha makes a comeback
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