AAP storms to power in Punjab, wins 92 seats; several stalwarts bite the dust

AAP's Chief Ministerial candidate Bhagwan Mann meets supporters in Patiala on Wednesday. PTI

Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday stormed Punjab, winning 92 of the 117 Assembly seats, decimating the Congress and the SAD-BSP combine and making leaders like CM Charanjit Singh Channi, Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh bite the dust.

While AAP bagged three-fourth of the seats, the Congress won 18, SAD 3, BJP 2 and BSP 1. An Independent also emerged victorious.

AAP will now form its second government in the country after the one led by Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi.

Kejriwal hailed the party's performance in Punjab as a "revolution" while his party leader Raghav Chadha said AAP will emerge as the replacement of the Congress at the national-level in coming days.

Political stalwarts like Channi, Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sukhbir Singh Badal had to face the drubbing.

Channi was drubbed by AAP's Labh Singh Ugoke with a margin of 37,558 votes from Bhadaur. He also lost from Chamkaur Sahib, where he was defeated by AAP's Charanjit Singh by a margin of 7,942 votes.

SAD patriarch and former CM Parkash Singh Badal (94), the oldest candidate in the fray, lost to AAP's Gurmeet Singh Khudian from his traditional Lambi seat in Muktsar district by a margin of 11,396 votes.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal lost to AAP's Jagdeep Kamboj from Jalalabad seat in Punjab's Fazilka district by a margin of 30,930 votes.

Amarinder Singh, 79, was defeated by AAP candidate Ajit Pal Singh Kohli from Patiala (Urban) by a margin of 19,873 votes.

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia and several Punjab Ministers also tasted defeat.

AAP's chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann won from Dhuri by a huge margin of 58,206 votes.

In the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, the Congress had ended the SAD-BJP's 10-year rule by bagging 77 seats. AAP had managed to get 20 seats while the SAD-BJP had won 18 seats and two seats went to the Lok Insaaf Party.

"Many congratulations to the people of Punjab for this revolution," AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.

He also posted a picture of him standing with party's chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann.

Mann said the oath-taking ceremony of the new Punjab cabinet will be held at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in Nawanshahr district.

Mann said no government office will display photographs of the chief minister. Instead, photos of Bhagat Singh and B R Ambedkar will be put on walls in government offices.

Appealing to people to work unitedly, Mann said those who did not vote for AAP need not to worry as the government will work for all sections of society.

Rival parties also congratulated AAP.

Channi said, "I humbly accept the verdict of the people of Punjab and Congratulate @AamAadmiParty and their elected CM @BhagwantMann Ji for the victory. I hope they will deliver on the expectations of people."

State Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu also congratulated AAP.

"The voice of the people is the voice of God . Humbly accept the mandate of the people of Punjab . Congratulations to Aap !!!" he said in a tweet.

Former CM Amarinder Singh said he accepted the verdict of people with all humility as democracy triumphed.

Amarinder Singh had floated the Punjab Lok Congress after quitting the Congress last year owing to his unceremonious exit as the CM.

SAD's Sukhbir Singh Badal said his party accept the people's mandate whole-heartedly.

"I am grateful to lakhs of Punjabis who placed their trust in us & to to SAD-BSP workers for their selfless toil. We will continue to serve them with humility in the role they have assigned to us," Sukhbir Badal tweeted.

AAP senior leader Raghav Chadha said the party will emerge as the replacement of the Congress at the national level in coming days.

Chadha said people have chosen Bhagwant Mann and Kejriwal model of governance.

There was jubilation in the AAP camp right from the morning as early trends started pouring in.

Lakhwinder, an AAP supporter in Kharar, said "Those parties which until yesterday were questioning the exit poll surveys which showed clear majority to AAP will have no face to show now."

Abhishek Garg, another AAP supporter, said people were fed up with traditional parties and had given their full backing to the "Kejriwal model of governance".

The results also showed that the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, a political outfit floated by various farmer bodies which contested the Punjab polls, failed to make any mark.

AAP's vote percentage was over 42 per cent as compared to 22.98 per cent of the Congress while SAD got 18.38 per cent, BJP 6.60 per cent, BSP's 1.77 per cent. NOTA share was 0.71 per cent.

Punjab had gone to polls on February 20 and registered a voter turnout of 71.95 per cent.

AAP had sought to project itself as an agent of change and designed its poll campaign likewise and accused its rivals of "looting" the state.

The SAD and the Congress have alternatively been forming governments in the state.

The Congress fought the elections with Channi as its chief ministerial candidate, hoping for the consolidation of the SC votes.

The stakes were also high for the SAD, which contested the polls in alliance with the BSP after breaking electoral ties with the BJP over the farm laws issue.

The BJP, which used to be a junior partner during its alliance with the SAD, fought this election with the Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led SAD (Sanyukt).

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