Congress leads in Punjab over AAP, Akalis

Chandigarh, March 11: Proving wrong exit polls which projected a close outcome, the Congress forged ahead in 56 of the 101 assembly seats in Punjab, officials said.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was confident of coming to power in the border state, led in 21 seats, even behind the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine (24 seats).

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 89, led in his Lambi seat over his rivals Amarinder Singh (Congress) and Jarnail Singh (AAP).

But the Chief Minister's son Sukhbir Singh Badal trailed to AAP's Bhagwant Mann in Jalalabad.

A former Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, however, led in his traditional seat Patiala-Urban over his Akali Dal rival J.J. Singh, a former Army chief and a former Governor of Goa.

Counting of votes for assembly seats and the by-election to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat began across Punjab in the morning.

A total of 1,145 candidates, including 81 women, had contested in Punjab. A party needs 59 seats to gain a simple majority.

The by-election to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Congress leader Amarinder Singh in November 2016, was also held with the assembly polls.