Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's ruling Congress (I) Party appeared to have won majorities yesterday in all but three of the 10 Indian states and one union territory holding legislative elections.
While results from some states that split voting between Saturday and Tuesday were still incomplete last night, Washington Post correspondent William Claiborne reported, the Congress (I) had taken irreversible leads in the Hindi-speaking belt that stretches across northern India, and won a stunning three-fourths majority in the state assembly of Madhya Pradesh, in central India.
As expected, the Congress Party lost in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, where linguistic pride and regionalism run strong, and in Sikkim, where a former Congress (I) chief minister dismissed 10 months ago for violating party discipline led a rebel party to victory.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Telegu Desam Party led by former matinee idol N.T. Rama Rao appeared assured of a two-thirds majority, while Congress (I) was struggling to win the minimum of 30 of 294 seats needed to retain its status as a recognized opposition party in the state assembly.
The opposition Janata Party was assured of its majority in Karnataka when it won 113 of the first 160 seats declared, and was ahead in most of the remaining 66 districts.
The Congress Party won solidly in the union territory of Pondicherry and was assured of overwhelming victories in Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.