New Delhi: On his 75th birthday, Captain Amarinder Singh gave himself a landslide victory in Punjab, the only consolation for the Congress on a bleak day. The Congress is set for a comeback in the state after 10 years, but at the cost of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which failed to live up to its promise.
- Congress makes a comeback in Punjab after 10 years
- AAP in second spot, few seats ahead of Akali-BJP alliance
- PM Modi congratulated Amarinder Singh who is set to be Chief Minister
The Congress looked set to end up with 77 seats while AAP placed a poor second at 22, barely a few seats ahead of the ruling Akali-BJP combine, which stared at only 18 seats.
Punjab has 117 seats and a party needs 59 to form the government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate the Captain, who is set to return as Chief Minister for the second time.
Mr Singh has said that his first priority would be to fight drugs. "The people of Punjab have given us a big mandate. I have vowed to finish drugs within four weeks," he said.
Talk of an important position in the government for cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu began after his win by a huge margin against his BJP and AAP rivals. Asked about the possibility of Mr Sidhu becoming his deputy, the Captain said, "That will be decided by Rahul Gandhi."
Congress workers celebrate party's victory in Punjab
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the country's oldest, defeated Mr Singh in Lambi, but that was to be his only victory today as his party settled at the number three spot.
89-year-old Mr Badal had hoped to become Chief Minister for the sixth time - thrice in a row.
The celebrations began early outside AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal's home in Delhi this morning with tricolor balloons strung up and holi colours and brooms (the party's election symbol), kept ready for a celebratory party that never quite started.
As the day wore on, all visible signs of celebration were removed and workers were seen shoving the brooms into backseats of cars.
"Arvind Kejriwal is a summer storm, he came and he's gone," Mr Singh quipped about the man who had repeatedly challenged him during the campaign.
Kumar Vishwas, one of the founder leaders of AAP, said: "We didn't get the mandate we expected...becoming the main opposition in the assembly is an achievement. We will introspect what went wrong."