Congress is likely to maintain its grip on the northern state of Punjab with up to 9 seats, as predicted by the India Today-My Axis India Exit Poll. The poll prediction has given 5 seats to Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP). The India Today exit poll is conducted by Axis My India that has surveyed more than seven lakh people in all of the 542 constituencies that underwent the Lok Sabha Elections 2019.
It is likely to be one of the few states with a Congress majority. Even though BJP fielded some of the most popular faces, it is not likely to translate the votes in its favour.
Some of the key candidates in the fray were BJP-SAD's Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur, Hardeep Singh Puri from Amritsar, Sukhbir Singh Badal from Firozpur, Harsimrati Kaur Badal from Bathinda, Congres' Sunil Jakhar from Gurdaspur, Hardeep Puri from Amritsar, Preneet Kaur from Patiala, Manish Tiwari from Ananpur Sahib and AAP's Bhagwant Mann.
BJP's Sunny Deol and Congress' Sunil Jakhar witnessed a tough fight for the Gurdaspur seat. Jakhar is also the Punjab Congress president. While campaigning for Sunny Deol, his father and veteran actor Dharmendra had said that if he had known that his son was contesting against Balram Jakhar's son, he would have asked him to step down. Separately, Sukhbir Badal is contesting from Firospur and his wife and Union minister Harsimrat Badal is seeking re-election from Bathinda for the third time.
On most seats, the fight is straight up between Congress and SAD-BJP alliance. In 2014, AAP and SAD had won four seats, while the Congress had settled for three and BJP had two.
Polling in the state began at 7 am today and concluded at 6 pm. Over 2.07 crore individuals were eligible in Punjab to vote. Out of that, 98,29,916 were female electors and 560 belong to the third gender. There were 278 candidates, out of which 24 were women. A total of 23,213 polling stations were set up and 249,719 and 509 booths were categorised as critical, sensitive and hyper sensitive, respectively.
More than one lakh security personnel including paramilitary force were deployed in the state for free and fair polling, officials said. Despite such security, violence broke out in at least four Lok Sabha constituencies, including Bathinda, Khadoor Sahib, Hoshiarpur and Ferozepur. Polling was stopped at a station in Talwandi Sabo area of Bathinda following violence in which three SAD workers were injured in a firing incident.