Punjab Election: Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party set for 1st win outside Delhi
Punjab Assembly Election: Exit polls say ruling Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal set to tussle for post of primary opposition.
Counting for the 2022 Punjab Assembly election begins at 8 am on Thursday, with exit polls predicting a shock win for Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. The AAP - which has won the past two elections in Delhi, each by winning over 60 of 70 seats - is projected to claim a similarly emphatic win in Punjab. India Today-Axis My India and News24-Today's Chanakya both give the party over 75 seats in the 117-member House. ABP News-CVoter gives it 51-61 seats and Republic P-Marq gives it 62-70 seats. Times Now-Veto gives it 70 seats.
The ruling Congress' best predicted result is between 25 and 31 seats (Republic P-Marq) and 19 and 31 seats (India Today). Its worst is News24-Today's Chanakya's estimate of 3-17 seats.
The Shiromani Akali Dal, an ex-BJP ally that broke away after tension over the farmers protests, have a best of 20-26 seats (ABP) and worst of 1-11 (News24).
The BJP - allied with ex-chief minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh - is not expected to make inroads and has a best prediction of 7-13 seats.
An exit poll by Lokniti-CSDS - which relies on voteshare percentages - makes the same prediction, giving the AAP a massive 40 per cent and the Congress just 26 per cent. The Akalis will get 20 per cent, with the BJP and others coming in at an estimated 7 per cent. There is a 4 per cent margin of error for these numbers.
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The Punjab election has been dominated by frenzied discussions over the Congress' internal issues - specifically the rivalry between Amarinder Singh and state chief Navjot Sidhu - which exploded last year into a bitter and public feud.
Amarinder Singh was forced out in favour of the former cricketer, whom he subsequently ripped into, calling him 'a person of unstable mind' and 'dangerous for Punjab'. Singh also took no-holds-barred swipes at Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
READ: BJP to keep UP, Uttarakhand; AAP to win Punjab; tight race in Goa
Singh was replaced by Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab's first Dalit chief minister, but things didn't go to plan with Sidhu - who wanted to be picked for the state's top post instead - continuing to needle and provoke.
The Captain, as Singh is called, floated his own party, the Punjab Lok Congress, and joined hands with the BJP, but any expectation of a fabulous debut election seems to have been put to bed by the exit polls.
Full Coverage: 2022 Assembly elections
The infighting in the Congress (and the waning influence of the Akalis) has, it seems, provided Kejriwal and the AAP, which has named state boss Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial face, a golden opportunity to register a first election win outside Delhi.
READ: ‘Will accept people’s mandate on 10th’: AAP's Bhagwant Mann