Punjab proved to be the comeback state for the Congress as the Election Commission of India on Saturday declared it to be the single largest party in the 2017 Assembly election. Contradicting exit polls that had predicted not more than 55 seats for Congress, the party till 3.55 pm had won 67 seats and was leading in 11 others out of the 117 Assembly seats, going by the ECI data.
The incumbent Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, too, proved the exit polls wrong. While all the pollsters had forecast a rout of the alliance and ruled out the possibility of it winning more than nine seats, it did manage to bag 17. The Badals – Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal – maintained their respective bastions in Lambi and Jalalabad.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party comparatively suffered a bigger blow than the SAD-BJP alliance. While exit polls had said that the debutant contender would do well without hitting the 59-seat mark needed to form government, the AAP+ only won 22 seats. However, it has manage to secure spot as the major Opposition.
Punjab, which had its Assembly polls on February 4, had recorded a voter turnout of 70% for its 117 seats. Around 1.98 crore voters chose from 1,145 candidates. The three major issues leading up to the polls were the agricultural crisis, unemployment and a massive drug menace. While the SAD-BJP alliance tried to combat anti-incumbency waves by highlighting the legacy of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Congress and AAP had sought to use the public anger against the Akali rulers.
Here is how the day panned out:
15.45 pm: Thank you Narendra Modiji for your good wishes. Look forward to working with you for betterment of Punjab: Amarinder Singh
14.47 pm: Arvind Kejriwal expressed his disappointment over the loss. He, however, told IANS that becoming the main opposition was no less of an achievement.
14.26 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Narendra Modi congratulated Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on his win.
13.35 pm: SAD’s Parkash Singh Badal defeated Congress veteran Amarinder Singh from Lambi seat by a margin of 22,770 votes.
13.22 pm: Tomorrow I will submit my resignation to the governor, Parkash Singh Badal told ANI.
13.08 pm: Will study reasons for loss, says Parkash Singh Badal.
12.30 pm: Congress chief ministerial candidate Amrinder Singh won from Patiala urban seat by a margin of more than 51,000 votes, reported ANI.
12.04 pm: Navjot Singh Sidhu said people have restored faith in Congress. “This is the revival of the Congress, it is just the beginning. Congress will spread from here.”
11.10 am: The official numbers from the Election Commission are below.
10.40 am: Congress workers celebrate in Chandigarh.
10.27 am: SAD’s Bikram Singh Majithia is leading from the Majitha seat by 6,549 votes.
10.18 am: The AAP was expected to win a large share of the anti-incumbency votes. But early trends show that Punjab continues to remain a bipolar contest. Surprisingly, the SAD-BJP alliance has snatched the second position despite exit polls predicting a complete wipe out.
10.14 am: State Congress Vice President Sunil Jakhar trailing from Abohar seat by 3,485 votes.
10.12 am: The official numbers from the Election Commission are below.
9.58 am: Congress’s Navjot Singh Sidhu leading from Amritsar East seat.
9.51 am: In Majitha, Congress candidate is leading, according to NDTV.
9.35 am: The official numbers from the Election Commission are below.
9.29 am: AAP still confident that these trends will change in Punjab, Attorney Bharti told NDTV.
9.19 am: Congress is leading in 42 seats in Punjab while the SAD-BJP alliance is ahead in 10 seats.
9.01 am: Congress candidate Captain Amarinder Singh leading by 3,500 votes from Patiala seat.
8.57 am: Trends show the Congress is leading in 24 seats while the AAP is ahead in seven seats. The ruling SAD-BJP alliance is leading in five seats.
8.47 am: Early trends show the SAD-BJP alliance and the AAP are leading in one seat each.
8.33 am: Parkash Singh Badal leading from Lambi Assembly seat. Congress chief ministerial candidate Captain Amarinder Singh is at second spot followed by AAP’s Jarnail Singh.
8.21 am: Postal ballots are being counted first.
8 am: Counting begins amid tight security arrangements.