New Delhi: The BJP strode ahead of the SP in the key state of Uttar Pradesh while the Aam Aadmi Party appeared set for a landslide win in Punjab as votes were counted for elections to five states on Thursday, according to the Election Commission website.
The BJP was also leading in Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, the other three states for which elections were held last month, trends indicated.
All eyes were on the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh where the Yogi Adityanath-led government was pitching for a second consecutive term in power.
In trends available for 368 of the 403 seats, the ruling party was ahead in 236 seats, comfortably over the halfway mark, while the Samajwadi Party, whose leader Akhilesh Yadav attracted huge crowds at his campaign rallies, was trailing behind with leads in 97 seats.
Adding to the saffron party's tally, ally Apna Dal (Soneylal) was ahead in nine seats. The Congress was leading in four seats and the BSP in three.
The BJP was projected to have a vote share of 42.8 per cent and the SP 31.1 per cent in the prize state, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Elections 2022, seen as a pointer to general elections two years away, were also the AAP's stepping stone out of Delhi. According to the trends on the Election Commission website, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party had leads in 89 of the 117 seats in Punjab, well above the halfway mark.
The Congress was a distant second with leads in 13 seats, preparing to cede power to a powerful AAP that had so far only ruled Delhi. The Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP lagged further behind with seven and five respectively.
Also trailing were several bigwigs, including SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Congress' Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi from both the seats he contested -- Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur.
The trends reflected in the vote share too with the AAP at 42 per cent and the Congress at 23.26.
As vote counting proceeded swiftly, BJP was in a dominant position in the other states too.
In the coastal state of Goa, the ruling party was ahead with leads in 18 of the 40 seats while its nearest rival Congress was at 12. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), which could be key in government formation, was ahead in six seats. The Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were leading in one seat each, while independents were ahead in three seats.
The picture in Uttarakhand was more decisive. In leads available for 63 of 70 seats, the BJP was ahead in 44 and the Congress in 15, a gulf too far to bridge if the trends hold.
Among the prominent candidates trailing in the hill state was Congress veteran Harish Rawat in Lalkuan. Interestingly, BJP's Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami was also trailing in Khatima.
In the northeastern state of Manipur, trends were available for 37 of 60 seats with the BJP ahead in 15 and the Congress in five. The National People's Party had leads in seven and the Naga People's Front in five. PTI