Punjab, which witnessed a triangular contest in the assembly polls, could be in for a neck-and-neck fight between the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) while the ruling SAD-BJP may face a drubbing, according to pollsters.
Exit polls released ahead of the 11 March counting predict the SAD-BJP combine, which has been ruling the state for 10 years, could be struggling to get even into double digits in the 117-member House due to multiple factors including the anti-incumbency.
While India Today-Axis exit polls gave 62-71 seats to the Congress and 42-51 to AAP, India TV-C Voter projected 41-49 for the Congress and 59-67 seats for the AAP. India News-MRC and News 24-Chanakya forecast 55 seats to the Congress and 54 to the AAP.
The ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance was reduced to single digit tally in all exit polls.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the exit polls, the SAD-BJP alliance is confident of defying the pollsters “like in 2012”, when it proved the surveys wrong. 89-year-old chief minister Parkash Singh Badal claimed the combine would win 72 seats.
As for Congress, Amarinder Singh claimed it would win 65 seats and the AAP exuded confidence of bagging close to 100.
The state went to polls in single phase on 4 February and recorded 77.36 percent polling against 78.57 percent in the 2012 polls.
Punjab, which had mostly seen a contest between SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress over the last few decades, added a third front in the 2017 Assembly election with the entrance of Arvind Kejriwal's AAP. There were a total of 1,145 candidates in the fray, with alll the top-three contenders Congress, SAD-BJP alliance as well as AAP fielding 117 candidates. Also in the fray in Punjab are Communisty Party of India — Marxist (CPM), Communist Party of India — Marxist Liberation (CPI-ML), Aapna Punjab Party (APP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Punjab Front, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Punjab United (PU), Akali Dal (AD), Apna Punjab (AP), Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Party (JJJKP), Swabhiman Party (SP) and Janta Dal United (JDU).
“The counting of votes will take place on Saturday (11 March) for which all necessary preparations have been made,” an election office spokesman said in Chandigarh. It was a record for the state when the SAD (with BJP) came back to power in 2012 as no party had ever been given two consecutive terms. Since reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, the Congress and the SAD have been ruling the state alternately. The SAD-BJP alliance formed the government for the first time in 2007 and retained majority in 2012.
This time around, while the SAD is contesting 94 seats the BJP is 23. The Congress has contested all the seats. The AAP and its ally Lok Insaf Party, led by the Bains brothers of Ludhiana, are fighting 112 and 5 seats respectively.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Mar 12, 2017 04:27 pm | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 10:03 pm