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Amarinder, Antony may quit

By BS Political Bureau
May 15, 2004 14:16 IST
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The two Congress chief ministers of states where the party performed disastrously -- A K Antony in Kerala and Amarinder Singh in Punjab -- are contemplating resignation from their posts.

In Kerala, the Congress lost the Vadakancherry assembly seat contested by rebel leader K Karunakaran's son Muraleedharan. The Congress had never lost this seat before.

Karunakaran's daughter Padmaja Venugopal also lost the Mukundapuram Lok Sabha seat last held by Karunakaran himself, and considered the safest Congress seat in Kerala.

Apart from these two conspicuous defeats, the party drew a blank in the 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state, with 18 going to the Left Democratic Front, one going to the National Democratic Alliance, and one to the Muslim League.

In Punjab, the situation is rather similar. Of the 13 seats in the state, the Congress won two, against the eight held by it in the last Parliament.

Even Amarinder Singh's supporters are holding the lack of poll management responsible for the Congress debacle. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has publicly demanded his resignation.

Bhattal has long been a candidate for the chief ministership, and it took central intervention to avert a split in the Punjab Congress after she had camped in New Delhi for several days to get Singh sacked.

In Delhi, fresh from his electoral success, Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal cited Bhattal's statement to seek Amarinder's resignation.

"If there is any political decency left with the chief minister, he should quit," he said, adding that "even his deputy has openly demanded his resignation."

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