Chandigarh / Panaji: A record 83 per cent voted in Goa yesterday, while Punjab saw a turnout of 75 per cent in polling that was extended beyond 5 pm, the Election Commission said on Saturday, adding that the figures could go up. Punjab’s voter turnout is lower than last time’s 78.06 per cent. Saturday’s elections test the expansion plans of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which debuts in both states. The assembly elections being held in five states all through this month and into March are also the first big electoral test for the ruling BJP since November’s notes ban.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet on voting in Punjab and Goa:
- The BJP is in power in both Goa and in Punjab where it rules with ally Akali Dal. Traditional rival and new player AAP hopes to benefit from an anti-incumbency sentiment.
- Punjab saw a high voter turnout in the Malwa belt, which has 69 out of the state’s 117 assembly seats and is decisive for any party’s victory. The Aam Aadmi Party is seen to be giving the Akali Dal and the Congress a run for their money in the region.
- Rs 58 crore cash, 12.43 lakh litre liquor worth Rs 13.34 crore, 2,598 kg of drugs and narcotics were seized in Punjab, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said.
- If the BJP wins in these elections it will credit the success to PM Modi’s ban on 500-and 1,000-rupee notes in November, aimed at eliminating black money. Opposition parties have attacked it on demonetisation, accusing it of pushing the poor into deeper distress with the cash crunch and slowdown of economic activity that has followed.
- How AAP fares is being watched with keen interest as the four-year-old party attempts to extend its influence beyond Delhi, where it swept assembly elections two years ago. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made a vote appeal to Punjab in Gurmukhi this morning.
- The Akali Dal-BJP alliance has ruled Punjab for two straight terms, ten years, and both the Congress and AAP hope to benefit from an anti-incumbency sentiment.
- The Congress has done poorly in most state elections since it was reduced in 2014 to its lowest ever tally in Parliament. It hopes to reverse that trend in Punjab, but has a battle on its hands with AAP eating into the vote shares of both Congress and the Akali-Dal-BJP alliance.
- Key contests on Saturday featured a fight between chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, 89, of the Akali Dal and Captain Amarinder Singh, 75, of the Congress in Lambi and a mega battle in Jalalabad between the Chief Minister’s son and deputy Sukhbir Badal and Bhagwant Singh Mann, seen as AAP’s leading contender for Chief Minister if the party wins.
- In Goa, which has 40 assembly seats, the BJP hopes to form government again despite parting ways with partner Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) soon after elections were announced. The MGP, which has set up a three-party regional alliance, threatens to eat into BJP votes.
- Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, former Goa chief minister and his successor Laxmikant Parsekar were early voters on Saturday. In 2012, the BJP had won 21 of the 40 seats, a majority on its own, with its partner adding three seats, and the party hopes to do that again. It has pitched stability to a state that has seen 10 chief ministers in 10 years, dropping broad hints that Manohar Parrikar could make a comeback to his home state.