DEHRA DUN: Congress tonight appeared on course to form government in Uttarakhand after it took a wafer-thin one seat advantage over ruling BJP in a cliff-hanger of a contest in state assembly polls.
Out of all the 70 results, Congress won 32 seats--four short of majority in the 70-member House--and ruling BJP followed closely with 31 seats.
Congress sources said the party would seek the support from three successful independent candidates as well as UKD, which won one seat, for government-making.
BSP won three seats and could also hold the key rpt key to government formation in the state.
As Congress emerged as the single largest party, a delegation of the party called on Governor Margaret Alva late this evening and staked claim to form new government. Congress has also convened a meeting of the CLP tomorrow, party sources said.
The biggest setback for BJP came when chief minister B C Khanduri, who led the party at the hustings, was defeated by S S Negi of Congress from Kotdwar seat by 4632 votes.
He is the first Chief Minister who lost the elections in the 12-year history of the state carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.
Congress and BSP failed to make headway in Haridwar and Udhamsingh Nagar districts this time which have a sizeable Muslim population. In both the two districts, BJP sprang a surprise by bagging 12 out of a total 20 seats.
Former minister and Congress leader Indira Haridayesh wrested Haldwani seat from BJP by Renu Adhikari.
State BJP president Bishan Singh Chufal won from Didihaat constituency. PCC chief Yashpal Arya emerged triumphant from Baajpur seat and the leader of the opposition Harak Singh Rawat won from Rudraprayag seat. Both Arya and Rawat are being seen as hot contenders for the post of chief minister.
A number of ministers in the BJP government, including Parliamentary Affairs minister Prakash Pant, Agriculture Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Revenue Minister Diwakar Bhatt and Education Minister Matbar Singh Kandari were defeated at the hustings.