India’s Ruling Party Trails Badly in Key Election

Posted March 6th, 2012 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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Early returns from India's state elections point to a major mid-term defeat for the country's ruling Congress party and famed Gandhi political dynasty.

Figures released Tuesday showed Congress winning clearly in only one of five states and facing a landslide defeat in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. The party is likely to win just 27 out of 403 seats in that state's assembly.

Congress had hoped to make substantial gains following months of intensive campaigning by its emerging leader Rahul Gandhi, the son of party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The 41-year-old lawmaker told reporters that the results “were not good,” but he said his work to strengthen the party will continue.

Analysts say the elections are a litmus test for the ruling party halfway through its second term. In the last two years, it has faced criticism for a series of corruption scandals and has been battling high inflation.

Party leaders had hoped that a strong showing in the state elections would turn their party's fortunes around.

Given the Congress party's poor showing, Rahul Gandhi is expected to face questions about whether he has what it takes to emerge as a national leader and possible future prime minister.

According to the early numbers, the leftist Samajwadi party looks set to win in Uttar Pradesh. Congress also is trailing in the state of Punjab, but appears to be winning in Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.

The elections in the five states were held in stages, for five weeks.