Punjab gears up for counting of votes on Thursday

Chandigarh, March 9

The stage is set for counting of votes on Thursday for 117 assembly seats in Punjab where the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has emerged as a major contender while the Congress is seeking to retain power in the multi-cornered contest.

Various exit polls have predicted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will form the next government in Punjab but a few have also forecast a hung assembly in the state which had witnessed a high-stakes contest on February 20.

Counting of votes will start at 8 am at 117 centres in 66 locations, said Punjab Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju on Wednesday.

A total of 1,304 candidates, including 93 women and two transgenders, were in the fray.

The state recorded voter turnout of 71.95 per cent. It was the lowest percentage as compared to the voting percentage observed in three previous assembly elections.

In the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, the voting percentage recorded was 77.4. The percentage in 2007 and 2012 was 75.45 and 78.20, respectively. In the 2002 elections, the voting percentage was 65.14.

Though various exit polls predicted that the Congress would not be able to form the government for the second time in a row, Punjab Congress leaders have insisted that their party would secure victory.

AAP’s chief ministerial face and state unit head Bhagwant Mann has also expressed confidence that his party would form the next government.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal had claimed that his party, which fought elections in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party, would win over 80 seats.

The BJP has said that it will make impressive gains while former chief minister Amarinder Singh has said that this party, the Punjab Lok Congress, and the BJP have done well in the elections.

Punjab gears up for counting of votes on Thursday