The most awaited moment of this year’s biggest assembly elections covering five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa – has finally arrived as the counting of votes began at 8 am.
By 6 PM, The BJP is looking at a 260-plus tally in 403-seat Uttar Pradesh, with the Samajwadi Party, its main challenger, a distant second, election results show. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is heading for a landslide win in Punjab with leads in around 90 seats in the 117-seat assembly. The ruling Congress is trailing with 13 seats. The Congress is also trailing the BJP in both Manipur and Goa, where it was the single largest party in 2017.
In Uttarakhand, the BJP has crossed the majority mark with more than 45 seats in the 70-seat assembly. The Congress is trailing with less than 20 seats. Ahead in 19 of Goa’s 40 seats, the BJP said it has the support of three Independents and will meet the Governor shortly. Trinamool Congress ally MGP is ahead on four seats. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party claimed debut with two seats and is ahead in one more.
Manipur, where the BJP is leading the race, appears headed for a hung assembly too. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s NPP (National People’s Party) has emerged as the second-largest party, pushing Congress to the third position.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, in its second attempt, has taken Punjab, giving the eight-year-old outfit its second state after Delhi.
By 3 PM, it was clear that Punjab had embraced AAP, which placed second in the last election five years ago, defying several exit polls that had then forecast it as the winner. This time around, all exit polls gave AAP the clear lead in Punjab.
“People of this nation have said Kejriwal is not a terrorist. He is a true patriot,” the Aam Aadmi Party chief said in his party’s victory speech.
“Congratulations to Bhagwant Singh Mann on becoming Chief Minister. Such a majority scares me too, people have placed their trust in us. We want to fulfil their expectations,” Mr Kejriwal.
“To everyone watching me on TV, the revolution has come to Delhi and now Punjab. Now is the time to bring the revolution across the country. (Congress’s Charanjit Singh) Channi has been defeated by a candidate who works in a mobile repair shop,” the Delhi Chief Minister said.