Indian soldiers stand guard outside a sealed 'strong room' where electronic voting machines (EVM) are kept. Pic/AFP
Lucknow: The BJP on Saturday took winning leads in both Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand while the Congress raced ahead of the AAP in Punjab as officials counted votes polled in assembly elections.
In Goa, the Congress was leading in eight constituencies to the BJP's three. Bharatiya Janata Party candidates led in 190 of the 277 seats in Uttar Pradesh after one hour of counting, with party leaders saying that the BJP could win as many as 250 of the 403 seats if this trend continued.
In contrast, the alliance of the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Congress led in 64 constituencies, followed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 23. Election Commission officials said the BJP was leading in most major cities including Allahabad, Lucknow and Kanpur.
Even in Amethi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP's Garima Singh had forged ahead.
The story was no different in neighbouring Congress-ruled Uttarakhand where BJP candidates led in 27 of the 33 seats where counting trends were available.
The Congress was in the lead in five seats and the BSP in one seat.
In Punjab, defying most exit polls which had projected a neck-and-neck outcome, the Congress had forged ahead in 50 of the 86 seats followed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 22.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine led in 13 seats.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 89, was leading from his Lambi seat over his rivals Amarinder Singh (Congress) and Jarnail Singh (AAP).
But his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal trailed to AAP's Bhagwant Mann in Jalalabad.
Counting of votes for the 117 Punjab assembly seats as well as the by-election to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat was on. The Amritsar Lok Sabha seat was vacated by Amarinder Singh in November.
A party needs 59 seats to gain a simple majority in Punjab.
In Manipur, the ruling Congress led in eight of the 14 constituencies, officials said, followed by the BJP in three. Smaller parties led in three constituencies.