New Delhi, May 16 (ANI): Saturday was a remarkable day in Indian politics, as the much anticipated counting of votes cast during the five-phased general elections held in the months of April and May, threw up a sensational result for the incumbent Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
The plight of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Third (led by the Left) and Fourth Fronts could be summed up in three words - a telling blow - brought on quite brilliantly and strategically by the troika of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.
As the UPA comfortably inched its way to a near majority in the 545-seat Lok Sabha, converting the Opposition into a politically disheveled and divided house, celebrations erupted outside the Congress party's 24 Akbar Road headquarters in the heart of the capital.
As of 9.30 PM, the UPA has won 237 seats with the Congress winning in 171 and leading in 22 itself. The NDA on the other hand has won 150 and leads in 10.
The Third Front has won in 57 seats and leads in 11. The fourth front has won 23 and won leads in 5.
Other parties have won a total of 22 seats and are leading in 7 others.
Earlier in the day, accepting the people's mandate on the 2009 General Elections, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Arun Jaitley said that his party had got less seats than expected.
"Things definitely went wrong for us. The BJP accepts the people's verdict. We have got less seats than we expected," Jaitley said at a press conference here.
Jaitley admitted that the Congress had emerged as the largest political party and was the nearest to form the next government at the Centre.
"The BJP respects the decision of the electorate and will analyse the reasons behind the loss," he added.
Jaitley admitted that something went against the interests of the BJP, and added that a few things worked in favour of the Congress.
"We will analyse the reasons behind what happened after the final results come. The BJP will have a parliamentary board meeting at 5 PM today to discuss the future course of action," he added.
On the other hand, the CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat said his party and the other Left parties have suffered a major setback in the election.
Karat said there was an urgent requirement for the CPM to review its poor performance.
He informed that a review meeting over the unexpected results and decide the future course of action would be held on May 18.
Karat said the CPI-M would continue to champion secularism and fight for its policies.
Left bastions, Kerala and West Bengal, seem to have moved away to the Congress.
Jaitley further said his party had performed well in some states along with allies, but in some states, the performance was average to poor in some areas.
He also said that the Congress- led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had the biggest mandate.
"The Congress has the biggest mandate. I think if the Congress wants to compliment some of its leaders in this hour of victory, I think they are entitled to do so," Jaitley added.
Jaitley said that in some states the number of seats dipped whereas they had been expected it to rise.
Meanwhile, addressing media persons jointly with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at 10 Janpath here, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh thanked the people of the country for the faith they had shown in the Congress party.
"It's always my wish to have Rahul Gandhi in my cabinet, but now we'll have to persuade him to join us," Singh said.
He said the thumping win of the Congress party was due to the untiring work that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul had done during all the five years of the UPA's regime.
"Under the visionary leadership of Sonia Gandhi and the sustained hardwork by our youth leader Rahul Gandhi, we achieved the success," Singh added.
Congratulating the people of the country on giving the UPA the mandate to form the next government, Sonia Gandhi said people had revealed that they knew what was right for them.
"People of India know what's good for them," Gandhi said.
Earlier in the day, counting of votes for the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies began at 8:00 a.m. in all 28 states and seven union territories. Votes polled in elections to state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim are also being counted simultaneously.
The results are expected to decide the fate of 8,070 contestants, including 556 women.
Around 1,080 counting centres have been set up across 28 states and seven union territories with 4,260 counting halls.
A little over half of the 71.377 crore registered voters cast their ballots through Electronic Voting Machines in the five-phased elections that began on April 16 and ended on May 13.
The Election Commission has deployed 60,000 counting staff for the purpose. (ANI)