Majority for SAD-BJP in Punjab; Badals upbeat, Congress surprised

Chandigarh : Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance Tuesday secured a majority in the 117-member assembly, winning 59 seats in the results announced till 3 p.m. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was quite naturally upbeat while the opposition Congress was “surprised” at the outcome.

Till 3 p.m., the SAD had won 47 seats and the BJP 12. The Akalis were leading in nine seats.

The Congress had won 44 seats and was leading in nine, while Independents won in two seats. One Independent was leading.

“I want to thank the people of Punjab for the faith reposed in us again. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude to them. They have given us such a big victory,” a visibly happy Parkash Singh Badal, 84, told the media at his palatial residence in Badal village, 270 km from here.

With his son, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal – who is also the deputy chief minister – by his side, Badal senior said: “There are two reasons for our victory. We went to the people with the agenda of peace and development in the state. I am happy that we have been able to live up to their expectations.”

Badal senior also announced that he and his entire family will pay obeisance at the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib, (popularly called Golden Temple) in Amritsar Wednesday.

“We will work harder (in the new government,” Badal announced.

The Akali Dal and BJP are likely to hold a meeting here Thursday before the next government is sowrn-in.

The Congress, which was very hopeful of returning to power this time, accepted defeat in the election.

“We accept our defeat. We will analyze where things went wrong,” Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh told the media at his residence in Chandigarh.

“I take full responsibility for the defeat. This result is very surprising,” Amarinder Singh, a former chief minister, said.

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