Patiala, Jan.30 (ANI): Raninder Singh, the son of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who is fighting elections in the state from the Samana Assembly Constituency, has said that he expects the opposition Congress party to register a sweeping win in over 70 of the 117 seats that are up for grabs in the state.
Speaking to mediapersons on Monday, Raninder Singh said he was confident about the Congress party forming the next government in the state.
"I expect the Congress to get close to about 70-72 seats," said Singh.
"The Alkalis (regional ruling party of India's northern poll-bound Punjab state) have always traditionally announced their candidate for or the chief minister in advance. I think this time high command has very graciously announced my father's candidature for the post of the party being elected to power. I think this has had a major impact on people making up their minds because he has emerged over time because of his work, his administrative capabilities as a strong leader and people look for strong leadership," he said.
In Punjab, the main battle is between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-National Democratic Alliance combine and the Congress party, which heads the government at the centre.
"Public mood for us was good. Everybody wants captain sahib (Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Amarinder Singh) to come to power and there was a lot of development when he was the chief minister in Patiala and I think we are going to win very comfortably," said Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, who is also Raninder Singh's mother.
In a recent development, Sehajdhari Sikh Party President Paramjit Singh Ranu extended support to the Congress party by withdrawing all of its 21 candidates from the elections.
In Punjab, about 1.76 crore voters will seal the fate of 1,078 candidates.
Voting is taking place amid tight security. About 200 companies of the central para military forces, besides Punjab Police personnel, have been deployed to ensure free and peaceful polling at 19,841 polling stations in Punjab, including five identified as "hyper-sensitive" and 32 as sensitive, an election office spokesman said on Sunday.
Out of the 1,078 candidates in fray 417, including 45 women, are Independents. In 2007, there were 1,055 candidates, including 56 women, in the fray.
The ruling SAD-BJP alliance, the Congress and the BSP are contesting all the 117 assembly seats.
The recently formed Punjab People"s Party will contest 92 seats while the SAD (Amritsar) headed by former IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann will contest 57 seats. he SAD has put up candidates on 94 seats which include 10 women while the BJP is contesting the remaining 23 seats, which includes three women.
The Congress has fielded 11 women while the BSP has fielded six women. Most of the 117 assembly seats will witness a triangular contest between the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, the main opposition Congress and the Sanjha Morcha which includes the Left and People"s Party of Punjab (PPP) led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal"s estranged nephew Manpreet Badal.
The counting of votes would take place on March 6. (ANI)
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