Chandigarh: Exit polls by various news channels and survey agencies have indicated a rout for the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance in Punjab, with most projecting single-digit seats for the ruling combine.
Counting of votes for 117 Punjab assembly seats -- voting for which was held on February 4 -- will be taken up on March 11. A party needs 59 seats to gain a simple majority in the assembly.
The Aaj Tak-Axis survey gave the SAD-BJP combine four to seven seats. It predicted a clear majority for the Congress with 62-71 seats and AAP in second position with 42-51 seats.
The India News-MRC survey gave seven seats to the Akali Dal-BJP combine and put the Congress and the AAP neck and neck at 55 seats each. The News24-Chanakya survey gave nine seats to the ruling alliance and put the Congress and AAP neck and neck at 54 seats each.
The India TV-C Voter survey gave 5-13 seats to the SAD-BJP alliance and projected the AAP as a winner with 59 to 67 seats. The Congress was projected to get 41-49 seats. The ABP-CSDS survey gave the Akali Dal-BJP combine 19-27 seats, with the Congress emerging as the single largest party with 46-56 seats. It gave 36-46 seats to the AAP.
Some surveys gave 2-3 seats to other parties and Independent candidates.
Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Thursday expressed confidence of his party forming the next government in the state "with a clear majority". Reacting to the exit polls, Amarinder said: "I am optimistic that our party will attain a clear majority with 62-65 seats. The exit polls are merely indicative of the positive trend in favour of the Congress but the actual results will be completely in favour of the party." The Akali Dal-BJP alliance has been in power in Punjab since 2007. The alliance won the 2007 and 2012 assembly elections in straight contests with the Congress. In the 2017 elections, the AAP emerged as a third force on most seats. Punjab recorded a high of 77.4 per cent voter turnout.