New Delhi: The single-phase elections in Punjab and Goa ended today, with the former registering 78% percent voters’ turnout and the later 83 percent.
Both states witness high-octane three-way battle between the BJP, Congress and a debutante Aam Aadmi Party.
Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was among the first to cast his vote in Goa, could make a return to state politics after BJP chief Amit Shah said at a rally that the new government would work under the leadership of Parrikar, should the BJP retain power in the Goa.
Meanwhile, in Punjab, the Badal family voted in patriarch Parkash Singh Badal’s Lambi constituency. The state witnesses intense competition in Lambi – where incumbent Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal faces his predecessor Amarinder Singh – and the Jalalabad seat, where AAP MP Bhagwant Mann seeks to dethrone Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Former BJP MP and newly-inducted Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is contesting from Amritsar East; whereas, Amarinder Singh is also facing former Army chief General JJ Singh in Patiala.
State Congress chief Amarinder Singh today termed the Assembly polls as a “vote for stability versus communalism and radicalism” and exuded confidence of a clean sweep in the state, including the Malwa region, which poll pundits had been terming as an AAP stronghold.
The chief ministerial candidate of Congress who exercised his franchise at Government College for Women here, promised to usher in the “much-needed new dawn (navan savera)” in the state.
Terming the elections as a vote for peace, communal harmony and stability, he claimed, “The people have voted for stability versus communal and radical politics.”
The people of Punjab want the experience and expertise of Congress to get the state back on the rails of progress and development, Amarinder claimed.
He dismissed any threat from either SAD, which had “ripped apart the state’s social, religious and economic fabric” in the last 10 years, or AAP, whose “popularity graph has declined drastically” in the last two to three years with the “exposure of their misdeeds and failures”.
People have not forgotten Badals’ attempts to “polarize them on communal lines” through sacrilege incidents, Amarinder claimed, and also ruled out competition from AAP claiming that the purported popularity of Arvind Kejriwal’s party is nothing more than a “creation of the media”.
“AAP’s euphoric entry” in Punjab during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was the result of the hype over its agitation in Delhi, which had found resonance in Punjab’s frustrated youth.
The hype has since faded and the party had lost its appeal completely,” he claimed.
“Even voters in the Malwa belt, which some analysts had optimistically started describing as AAP’s platform to success in the state polls, were disillusioned by Kejriwal and his cronies, whose nefarious designs have been completely exposed,” Amarinder said.
The Punjab Congress chief, who besides contesting Patiala seat, is also pitted against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from the latter’s stronghold of Lambi, claimed reports received by him indicate a “wave for Congress” across the state, with Malwa being no exception.
“People don’t want SAD’s mafia and communal ideology, nor do they want AAP’s radical extremism,” Amarinder said, adding, “People have voted for securing the future of their children.
Punjab stands at the brink of a positive change, and Congress is all set to provide it.”
(With PTI inputs)