BJP ahead in Uttar Pradesh, AAP in Punjab, tight races in Goa, Uttarakhand

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Counting begins at 8 AM and the winner is… (Health Warning: early leads have not always proven to be good barometers of the final results)
An hour into counting and there are some trends from the postal ballots. Early leads indicate BJP has a comfortable lead in Uttar Pradesh and the Samajwadi Party is coming in second. Akhilesh Yadav’s roadshows notwithstanding, in what looks like a bipolar contest, the SP may not be able to make significant gains, and the Congress and BSP may lose further ground. Punjab and Uttarakhand are tight races – the early leads show Congress neck-and-neck with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab and with the BJP in Uttarakhand. Health warning: the leads stabilise a few hours into counting and early leads have not always proven to be good barometers of the final results.

BJP’s Comfortable Lead in Uttar Pradesh

The BJP and its allies are looking to retain power in the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa. In the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly, should the BJP win, they’ll become the first party to be voted back in government for a second consecutive term. Most exit polls suggest that there is every possibility of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath leading his party to a comfortable majority, giving the BJP anywhere between 220 and 300 seats. The current assembly has BJP and its allies at 304.

Tight Races in Uttarakhand, Goa

Exit polls have predicted a close contest in Uttarakhand but here too, the BJP is ahead. In 2017, the party won 57 of the 70 seats in the Uttarakhand Assembly but this time the pollsters are giving it anywhere between 36 and 46 seats. The Congress is expected to do well and some exit polls have predicted a hung house. Both parties have flown in senior leaders to Dehradun and have started to reach out to the local parties and independent candidates. These numbers may prove to be critical in forming the next government. The Congress is keen to learn from its experiences in Goa and Manipur in 2017, where it could not form the government despite emerging as the single largest party after the polls. In Goa, it has corralled its candidates at a resort and is reaching out to parties like the MGP, Trinamool Congress and AAP. The incumbent Chief Minister of the state, Pramod Sawant, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Tuesday. The BJP has asserted it will form the next government in Goa. The party’s Goa election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis has reached out the MGP in particular to cobble together a post-poll alliance.

Most exit polls are giving Punjab to AAP and early leads are supporting the pollsters. The Congress has been a house divided with differences between party chief Navjot Sidhu and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh making headlines. While the Congress has since consolidated behind Charanjit Singh Channi, who was made chief minister in September 2021, Amarinder Singh formed a new political outfit and allied with the BJP. The Akali Dal which fell out with its long-standing ally, the BJP, is in a pre-poll alliance with Mayawati’s BSP. These realignments may see AAP’s Bhagwant Mann becoming the next Chief Minster of Punjab.

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