Lucknow: Putting up its best-ever performance, Samajwadi Party on Tuesday stormed to power in Uttar Pradesh with a stunning majority routing Mayawati-led BSP, the third time a party captured power on its own in the state in two decades.

SP, which was ousted from power in 2007 on law and order issues, avenged its defeat at the hands of BSP which was reduced to 80 seats from 206 five years ago.

The Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party has captured 221 seats in the 403-member House and was ahead in three others when the counting of votes was on for 11 seats.

The BJP was placed in third spot with 46 seats while the Congress was relegated to fourth place with a tally of 28 seats and a lead in a couple of others.

While BJP this time lost four seats from its 2007 tally Congress improved its position marginally from what it was five years ago.

SP's previous best performance was winning 143 seats in 2002 elections in a triangular contest with BSP and BJP.

The party's impressive performance could be gauged from the fact that it not only snatched seats from BSP but also made inroads into the stronghold of BJP like Lucknow.

Performance of Congress, which had banked on the charisma and aggressive campaigning by Rahul Gandhi, was dismal.

Though the party's tally has improved slightly as compared to 2007 when it had won 22 seats, several of its stalwarts lost this time.

While veteran Congress leader Ammar Rizvi lost from Sewta seat, security deposit of Louis Khurshid, wife of Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, was forefeited in Farukkhabad.

The party performed poorly even in the bastion of Nehru-Gandhi family--Rae Bareli and Amethi Lok Sabha constituencyes represented by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul respectively.

While the party lost all the five seats in Rae Bareli, Lok Sabha constituency, it was defeated in three out of the five constituencies in Amethi.

Even its three-time MLA from Amethi Amita Singh, wife of Congress MP from Sultanpur Sanjay Singh, also lost her seat. Similar was the situation in Sultanpur where all the five seats were won by SP.

The party paid the price of the feud between Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma and Chairman National SC/ST Commission P L Punia as the party failed to win a single seat in their bastion Barabanki. Verma's son Rakesh Verma was placed third in Dariyabad seat.

Abhishek Pal, son of Congress MP Jagdambika Pal, lost in Basti Sadar seat.

The only solace for the party was its state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and CLP leader Pramod Tiwari winning from Lucknow Cantt and Rampur Khas seats respectively.

No less dismal was the show of BJP which appeared set to fall short of its tally of 51 seats in 2007.

Except Uma Bharati from Charkhari and Kalraj Mishra from Lucknow East and Deputy leader Hukkum Singh, almost all its stalwarts and senior leaders lost.

Among those defeated were state party president Surya Pratap Shahi from Pathardeva, former state president Ramapati Ram Tripathi from Siswan, leader of the legislature party Om Prakash Singh from Chunar, former state president and ex-Speaker of Vidhan Sabha Kesari Nath Tripathi.

The party lost in eight of the nine seats in its stronghold Lucknow, once the Lok Sabha constituency of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

BSP, whose rule was marred by allegations of corruption and scam, failed to make much of an impact on the electorate despite operation clean-up by party supremo and CM Mayawati.

Several of its ministers, including Chaudhary Laxmi Narain, Lalji Verma, Jagdish Narain Rai, Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi, Abdul Mannan, Sangram Singh Verma, Jaiveer Singh and Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar, lost.

The results were encouraging for Peace Party of India, whose three candidates state president Ayub, Akhilesh Singh and Yusuf Mullick emerged victorious.

Samajwadi Party put up its best-ever electoral showing in the sprawling Allahabad district which has the highest number of assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Mulayam Singh Yadav's party bagged eight out of the 12 assembly seats in the district, the best performance by the SP ever since its formation in the 1990s.

The party's tally also marked a stupendous improvement compared with the 2007 polls when it had found itself at the receiving end of the anti-incumbency sentiment, and managed to win just one seat.

The ruling BSP, which had taken the district by storm in the last assembly polls and won eight seats, saw its tally shrinking by more than half.

The party managed to win only three seats.

Moreover, the pro-dalit party lost two of the three reserved constituencies here which may raise questions over its ability to retain its core support base.

The electoral outcome is likely to cause a major disappointment for the Congress, which had run a high-decibel campaign in the district which was chosen by Rahul Gandhi for launching the party's election campaign in November last year and where he held as many as four rallies prior to the February 15 polls in an obvious upping of ante.

The party has retained Allahabad (North) seat, where sitting MLA Anugrah Narayan Singh trounced his closest BSP rival by a comfortable margin of more than 16,000 votes, but failed to secure even the second spot in the remaining 11 seats.

However, it is the BJP which might be feeling the pinch more than others as it has failed to secure a single seat in the district making it the party's worst-ever performance in the last couple of decades.

The party's sole sitting MLA from the district, Uday Bhan Karwaria, finished a distant third in Allahabad (North).

Hailing from a Brahmin landlord family of trans-Yamuna, Karwaria tried his luck in the predominantly urban constituency as he had to abandon Bara, which he has represented two times but which has been declared as reserved following the latest delimitation.

None of the other BJP candidates has succeeded in finishing even the runner-up in any of the constituencies.

Results have also been significant in terms of victories of less-fancied candidates from seats where heavyweights were in fray.

The most spectacular case in point has been that of Allahabad (South), where Haji Parvej Ahmad "Tanki" of SP sprang a surprise and wrested the seat from Nand Gopal Gupta "Nandi", who was the sitting BSP MLA besides being a Cabinet Minister in the outgoing Mayawati government.

Tanki's victory, by a wafer-thin margin of 414 votes, assumes greater significance against the backdrop of the fact that former assembly speaker and BJP heavyweight Keshri Nath Tripathi, who had won the seat five times, finished a distant third.

This is the second consecutive defeat for Tripathi from his erstwhile pocket borough.

In 2007, he was stunned by Nandi, who was making his electoral debut and ironically his defeat in the last assembly polls was partly blamed on his alleged role in helping the SP assume power in the state in 2004 by getting BSP defectors along.

City Mayor Chaudhary Jitendranath Singh, whose term has expired and who continues to hold office as fresh local body polls are yet to be held, had an unsuccessful debut from the seat which he fought as a Congress nominee.

He finished fourth and ended up forfeiting his deposit.

Another prominent Congressman to have suffered a humiliating defeat is Shekhar Bahuguna, who is the brother of UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi besides himself being the vice-president of the party's state unit.

He contested from Phaphamau, bagged by Ansar Ahmad of SP, while Bahuguna himself finished sixth and secured only 5,551 votes in the constituency where more than 1.75 lakh votes were polled.

While the SP has reasons to celebrate, the party is likely to be baffled by its rather unexpected loss in quite a few seats.

A case in point is Karachhana, where former state Minister Ujjwal Raman Singh lost to Deepak Patel by a slender margin of 404 votes though the odds seemed to be staked in the SP's favour.

Singh is a former state Minister and son of sitting MP from Allahabad, Kunwar Reoti Raman Singh.

The Lok Sabha member has himself represented the assembly seat eight times and with the sitting BSP MLA Anand Kumar alias Collector Pandey moving to neighbouring constituency of Meja and anti-incumbency wave working for the SP it was expected to have a fair chance of winning the seat this time.

One seat, which has rather surprisingly turned out to be a saving grace for a sagging BSP is Allahabad (West).

Sitting MLA Puja Pal, who plunged into politics while in her 20s following the murder of her husband Raju Pal seven years ago, retained her seat belying all predictions.

The 32-year-old MLA defeated Atiq Ahmed of Apna Dal by a comprehensive margin of 8,885 votes.

Significantly, Ahmed is a key accused in the murder of Raju Pal.

He had also represented Allahabad (West) five times in a row before getting elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

He fell out with Mulayam Singh Yadav soon after Mayawati came to power in UP.

The BSP government got a number of fresh cases lodged against Ahmed, who was released on bail less than a month before the February 15 polls after having spent close to four years behind bars.

It was widely believed that Ahmed will be playing the victim card to the hilt and there was apprehension of voters getting polarized along communal lines which would have been to his benefit.

SP candidate Jyoti Yadav finished a distant third and ended up losing his deposit.

An ex-Ranji cricketer and son of a former Janata Dal MLA, Yadav was expected to cut into Ahmed's votes, which could have benefitted the BSP.