The Indian National Congress (INC) is headed for a historic victory as it's set to come to power in Punjab after ten years.The Congress is headed for a two-third majority in the 117-seat Punjab assembly, with veteran Amarinder Singh set to return as Chief Minister of the border state.
The Indian National Congress, which had been out of power in Punjab for a decade, won 77 seats paving the way for the next Congress government in Punjab.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Amarinder Singh and congratulated him. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which claimed it could win up to 100 seats, got only 20 and is leading in one more. Its ally, Lok Insaf Party (Others), won two seats.
The saving grace for the AAP is that it will be the main opposition in the new assembly.
The Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, which ruled Punjab since 2007, finished a poor third with 18 seats. The Akalis won 15 seats while BJP won three seats.
Ten ministers, including all four from the BJP, were defeated.
Having won Punjab for his party on his 75th birthday, Amarinder Singh said his first priority would be to eradicate drugs from the state.
"The people of Punjab have given us a big mandate. Our first priority will be to eradicate drugs from Punjab. I have vowed to finish drugs within four weeks," a visibly happy Amarinder Singh told the media.
A former Chief Minister (2002-07), Amarinder Singh turned 75 years old on Saturday.
He was non-committal on having cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as Deputy Chief Minister in the next government.
"That will be decided by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. All ministers will be decided by the party leadership."
In Chandigarh, security was enhanced outside the private bungalow of Amarinder Singh in the upscale Sector 10. A metal detector and more security personnel were deployed as the number of visitors increased.
Outgoing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal accepted defeat and said he will resign on Sunday.
Badal, 89, the oldest Chief Minister in the country, said: "I am grateful to the people of Punjab for giving me an opportunity to serve them. I am fully satisfied with all the things I was able to do. I seek forgiveness for any mistakes."
On the Lambi assembly seat, where Amarinder Singh had challenged Badal on his (Badal's) home turf, Badal won by 22,770 votes. But Amarinder Singh won his traditional Patiala Urban seat by over 52,400 votes.
The Chief Minister's son Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Akali Dal President, led in Jalalabad over AAP's Bhagwant Singh Mann.
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu dubbed the Congress victory as its "revival" and blamed the Akali rout on its leadership's "arrogance and turning the treasury into personal property".
Sidhu, who left the BJP to join the Congress last year, also attacked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. "Kejriwal had wrong intentions. It is a huge defeat for him."
Prominent AAP winners included Sukhpal Singh Khaira, H.S. Phoolka and Kanwar Sandhu. The AAP also finished second in 26 constituencies.
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LIVE UPDATES: PUNJAB - COUNTING DAY
|Congress candidate SUNIL DUTTI is leading in Amritsar North which is the only result that is yet to be declared. |
Congress candidates Nathu Ram and Arun Dogra have won in Balluana and Dasuya
|Congress candidate Brahm Mohindra wins in Patiala Rural constituency, three more to go and INC is leading in all. |
Only four constituencies remaining now:
Amritsar North SUNIL DUTTI (leading) Indian National Congress
Balluana NATHU RAM (leading) Indian National Congress
Dasuya ARUN DOGRA(leading) Indian National Congress
Patiala Rural BRAHM MOHINDRA (leading) Indian National Congress
|Counting still on in Amritsar North, Baba Bakala, Balluana, Dasuya, Jalandhar Central, Patiala Rural and Sanour constituencies. |
Dinesh Singh, BJP - Sujanpur
Navtej Singh Cheema, INC - Sultanpur Lodhi
Aman Arora, AAP - Sunam
Prog. Baljinder Kaur, AAP - Talwandi Sabo
Dr. Dharambir Agnihotri, INC - Tarn Taran
Sangat Singh Gilzian, INC - Urmar
Kulbir Singh, INC - Zira
Balbir Singh Sidhu, INC - S.A.S.Nagar
Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, SAD - Sahnewal
Rajinder Singh, INC - Samana
Amrik Singh Dhillon, INC - Samrala
Vijay Inder Singla, INC - Sangrur
Dilraj Singh, SAD - Sardulgarh
Ajit Singh Kohar, SAD - Shahkot
Pawan Kumar Adia, INC - Sham Chaurasi
Nirmal Singh, INC - Shutrana
Balwinder Singh, INC - Sri Hargobindpur
Jagtar Singh Jagga Hissowal, AAP - Raikot
Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, INC - Raja Sansi
Hardial Singh Kamboj, INC - Rajpura
Gurpreet Singh Kangar, INC - Rampura Phul
AMARJIT SINGH SANDOA, AAP - Rupnagar
|Fatehjang Singh Bajwa, INC - Qadian |
Amit, INC - Pathankot
Amarinder Singh, INC - Patiala
Harminder Singh Gill, INC - Patti
Lakhvir Singh Lakha, INC - Payal
Som Prakash, BJP - Phagwara
BALDEV SINGH KHAIRA, SAD - Phillaur
Rajnish Kumar Babbi, INC - Mukerian
Kanwarjit Singh, SAD - Muktsar
Sadhu Singh, INC - Nabha
Gurpratap Singh Wadala, SAD - Nakodar
Angad Singh, INC - Nawanshahr
Manjit Singh, AAP - Nihal Singhwala
Parkash Singh, SAD - Lambi
Parminder Singh Dhindsa, SAD - Lehra
Surinder Kumar Dawar, INC - Ludhiana Central
Sanjeev Talwar, INC - Ludhiana East
|Bickram Singh Majithia (Akali) has won from Majitha. |
Here are a few other winners:
Rana Gurjit Singh, INC - Kapurthala
Chaudhary Surinder Singh, INC - Kartarpur
Ramanjeet Singh Sahota Sikki, INC - Khadoor Sahib
Gurkirat Singh Kotli, INC - Khanna
Kanwar Sandhu, AAP - Kharar
Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, INC - Khem Karan
Kultar Singh Sandhwan, AAP - Kotkapura
|More winners: |
Saravjit Kaur Manuke, AAP - Jagraon
Pargat Singh Powar, INC - Jalandhar Cantt.
Avtar Singh Junior - Jalandhar North
Sushil Kumar Rinku, INC - Jalandhar West
Sukhwinder Singh Danny Bandala, INC - Jandiala
Jai Krishan, AAP - Garhshankar
Amarinder Singh, INC - Gidderbaha
Sunder Sham Arora, INC - Hoshiarpur
Kusaldeep Singh Kiki Dhillon, INC - Faridkot
Kuljit Singh Nagra, INC - Fatehgarh Sahib
Parminder Singh Pinki, KI, INC - Firozpur City
Satkar Kaur, INC - Firozpur Rural
Harvinder Singh Phoolka, AAP - Dakha
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, INC - Dera Baba Nanak
Sukhjit Singh, INC - Dharamkot
Harpal Singh Cheema, AAP - Dirba
And the winners are:
Dr. Raj Kumar, INC - Chabbewal constituency
Charanjit Singh Channi, INC - Chamkaur Sahib
Darshan Lal, INC - Balachaur
Gurpreet Singh, INC - Bassi Pathana
Gurmeet Singh Meet Haher AAP - Barnala
Rupinder Kaur Ruby, AAP - Bathinda Rural
Joginder Pal, INC - Bhoa
|Winner announced! |
Gurmeet Singh Meet Haher AAP - Barnala Constituencey
|More winners announced! |
Arun Narang, BJP - Abohar
Randeep Singh, INC - Amloh
Om Prakash Soni, INC Amritsar Central
Tarsem Singh D.C, INC - Attari
Navjot Singh Sidhu, INC - Amritsar East
Simarjeet Singh Bains, Lok Insaaf Party - Atam Nagar
|Winner announced! Dr. Raj Kumar, INC - Chabbewal constituency |
|Winner announced! Sukhpal Singh Khaira, AAP -Bholath constituency |
|Amarinder Singh is addressing media now |
Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh told IANS that it was disappointed it did not win the Punjab assembly election but added that even becoming the main opposition was an achievement.
He said all the AAP leaders needed to introspect where the party's assessment of taking power in the border state with more than 100 of the 117 seats went wrong.
|Winner announced! Kanwar Pal Singh, INC - Anandpur Sahib constituency |
|Winner announced! Sushil Kumar Rinku, INC - Jalandhar West constituency |
|Sidhu: Ego of Badals defeated |
|Sidhu: Kejriwal's intent defeated AAP |
|Navjot Singh Sidhu speaks in Chandigarh as Congress takes huge majority, says 'it's the beginning of revival for Congress.' |
Congress cruising towards victory in Punjab is currently leading in 71 seats.
First official reaction from an Akali leader
"We accept people’s verdict. Wait little more for the picture to get clear, says Harcharan Bains, media advisor to CM.
|Congress candidate and former hockey captain Pargat Singh leading by 9112 in Jalandhar Cantt over SAD. |
|Navjot Sidhu is leading by 6,000 votes in Amritsar East.
SAD's Bikram Singh Majithia leading from Majitha by 6549 votes
Election commission update on trends (115/117)
|AAP's Gurpreet Singh Ghughi is leading from Batala |
|"Punjab and Goa could be a great learning experience on what went wrong. But the clear advantage would be that after the BJP, Congress we would be a party with a footprint in more than 2 states," says AAP's Somnath Bharti |
"We are new to politics, we don't understand numbers very much. We believe in hard work, hard work for people, hard work in the assembly. I still believe the trends will reverse by 10:30 am," says AAP's Somnath Bharti on Punjab leads.
|Exit polls are proving to be right. Based on the leads right now, Congress is winning Punjab. AAP is second. |
|Lambi: Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal is ahead of Captain Amarinder Singh (Congress) by a margin of 1,245 votes |
|Congress leading after an hour of counting
Punjab Deputy CM & Akali President Sukhbir Singh Badal is trailing from Jalalabad seat. AAP lawmaker Bhagwant Mann is currently leading there. |
|Early trends in Punjab (38/117)
Others 1 |
|Early trends in Punjab give Congress a big edge, leading in 15 out of 19. AAP and SAD way behind at 2 seats each.
Prakash Singh Badal is leading after the first round at Lambi. Captain Amarinder Singh is 2nd and AAP's Jarnail Singh third.
Captain Amarinder Singh turns 75 today! Will he get his birthday gift?
Counting is taking place at 54 centres in 27 locations. Early trends are likely to emerge within the first couple of hours.
Amarinder Singh is expected to go to Patiala only if he wins. He is contesting from two seats: Patiala and Lambi.
|Counting of votes begin. Counting of postal votes starts. We will have leads coming in 10 minutes from now. |
|Good Morning! Who will form the next government in Punjab? The counting of votes is set to begin in less than 30 minutes. |
If there is one thing that is certain ahead of counting in Punjab, it is that the ruling Akali-BJP combine are set for an almost total rout.
But that is where the certainty ends. Even the poll of exit polls for the 117-member Punjab assembly predicted a too-close-to-call fight between Captain Amarinder Singh's Congress and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party.
The "satta" (betting) market though believes that new entrants AAP are set to clinch a clear majority.
Try telling that to Captain Amarinder Singh. "From all the available information, the Congress is definitely forming the next government in Punjab. We should get around 65 seats," the ex-Chief Minister said.
Come Saturday, the agricultural Malwa belt, the region south of the river Sutlej, that alone accounts for 69 seats, could hold the key in deciding if he is right or the bettors are.