BJP Scores UP Again; AAP Scoops Punjab
- Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will sweep Punjab.
- Uttar Pradesh will stay firmly with the BJP.
- The counting of votes will take place on Thursday.
Exit polls after the final phase of voting Monday predicted the return of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh and a comfortable victory for the AAP in Punjab. The polls forecast a dead-heat race in Uttarakhand and Goa, both ruled by the BJP, signalling the possibility of hung Houses in the two small states. Pollsters also predicted a sweep for the BJP in Manipur where it is the ruling party.
In Uttar Pradesh, most pollsters barring two forecasts that the ruling BJP may suffer losses but will still cross the halfway mark of 202 comfortably and retain power, bucking a trend of nearly four decades. The SP-RLD alliance, which waged a spirited campaign, may make major gains as compared to 2017 but is likely to fall well short of the magic figure. The Congress, the polls predicted, would remain in single digits. All polls predicted that the BSP, which had won 19 seats in 2017, could fare worse.
If the exit poll predictions hold true and the AAP manages to win Punjab, the outcome has the potential to trigger a churning in Indian politics, especially in the Opposition space as no other party barring the BJP and the Congress are in power in more than one state now. While the figures for the Akali Dal, however, varied. Most predicted that the BJP-Punjab Lok Congress would end up in single digits. The AAP surge in Punjab, if the pollsters are correct, is a major setback for the Congress which had played the Dalit card appointing Charanjit Singh Channi as Chief Minister, replacing Amarinder Singh just six months ago and projecting him as the CM face.
A defeat for Congress could reignite the factional feud in the state. In 2017, Congress stormed to power in Punjab, winning 77 of the 117 seats. The AAP, which made its debut last time, came second with 20 seats while the Akali Dal-BJP alliance, which was in power then, could manage to win only 18 seats (Akali Dal 15 and BJP 3). The BJP, on the other hand, aligned with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress. In Uttarakhand, the opinion polls differed sharply. While some gave the ruling BJP an edge, others predicted that Congress would emerge as the single largest party.