Cong set to win Punjab; BJP sweeps UP assembly polls

The Congress Party, which was reduced to almost a non-entity since the 2014 election that catapulted Narendra Modi and his Bhartiya Janata Party to power at the centre, is expected to see first success winning the Punjab assembly polls while BJP is all set to sweep back to power in Uttar Pradesh, after 15 years, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest victory after 2014.

While the exit polls had predicted a close fight between the Congress and the AAP in Punjab, the leads point towards complete victory for the Congress in the state. The party was leading in more than 70 seats at 11:30 am. The AAP might occupy the second spot.

Punjab is currently governed by the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) combine that has been in power since 2007. The AAP, however, succeeded in making its presence felt in a state where the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress were the only contenders.

Powered by Modi's aggressive campaign BJP candidates are on a winning course in 306 of the 403 constituencies as counting of votes progressed across the state.

As the Samajwadi Party-Cogress alliance and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) lost misserably, the imminent victory triggered widespread celebrations all across the state as well as at the BJP headquarters in Delhi.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called the win in UP bigger than the 2014 victory.

"It is a tectonic shift in Indian politics," he said. "UP is a laboratory of India. Demonetisation has worked and we are proud of Modi's leadership. It is a bigger victory than the 2014 win in the Lok Sabha election."

BJP candidates led in all major cities, including in five of the eight seats in Lucknow, eight of the 10 seats in Kanpur, nine of the 12 seats in Allahabad and seven of the eight seats in Varanasi, Modi's Lok Sabha constituency.

Even in Amethi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha seat, the BJP's Garima Singh is ahead.

After more than three hours of vote count that began at 8 am, the Samajwadi-Congress alliance was in the lead in 71 constituencies while the BSP was gasping in just 17 seats.

Congress, however, received a big jolt in Uttarakhand as chief minister Harish Rawat lost from Haridwar rural seat.

Of the 70 seats in Uttarakhand, Bharatiya Janata Party was leading in 51 seats, Indian National Congress in 16 and Independents on three seats and BSP (nil) at 11:20 am.

Goa, on the other hand, appeared headed for a hung assembly with the Congress winning three and the BJP four seats.

Out of the 40 seats counting in 20 seats showed Bharatiya Janata Party winnong 3 setas and leading in 4 while the Congress won 2 and was leading in 6, the Nationalist Congress Party leading in 1, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak leading in 1, Goa Forward Party leading in 2 seats and Independent leading in one seat.

Goa Forward candidate Vinod Palyekar defeated BJP candidate and state minister Dayanand Mandrekar in Siolim constituency.

Goa deputy chief minister Francis D`Souza retained the Mapusa assembly seat in North Goa, defeating his nearest Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party rival Vinod Phadke by 6,828 votes.

Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar (BJP) lost to Congress' Dayanand Sopte in Mandrem constituency.

In Manipur,  of the total 60seats, counting in 33 seats showed that the Bhartiya Janata Party won two seats and was leading in 8 while the Congress won 3 and was leading in 9, Naga Peoples Front won 1 and was leading in 2, Lok Jan Shakti Party was leading  in one, National People's Party won 1 and was leading in 4, while North East India Development Party was leading in one and Independent in one seat as of 11:45 am.