No surprises here. The much-awaited exit polls at the end of the protracted nine-phase Lok Sabha elections on Monday predicted a clean sweep for the Narendra Modi-led NDA which, if the tallies match the results to be announced on May 16, will bring an end to 10 years of UPA rule at the Centre. The extent of BJP’s victory, however, differed from one survey to another with the one by News-24 channel and Today’s Chanakya predicting a stunning figure of 340 seats for the NDA, best ever since the coalition’s formation in 1998.
Exit poll surveys, shown across news channels, appeared to be competing with each other in predicting a landslide victory for the NDA combine. If India TV and NewsX’s C-Voter survey put the likely NDA tally at 289, ABP-Nielsen gave the coalition 281 seats while TimesNow-ORG gave it 249. India Today-CICERO predicted an in-between figure of 261-283, which takes the NDA within striking distance of the simple majority.
With good-showing being predicted by many surveys, a visibly overwhelmed BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar beamed, “We’re happy with the exit poll results. Hope the actual results surpass this.” Modi, himself, was quoted in a tweet as saying that he was about to form the first majority government since 1984. After the NDA, the next biggest winner according to the exit polls, is the J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK. The ruling party of Tamil Nadu is shown to be getting between 27 and 31 seats. While India TV-C Voters gave AIADMK 27 out of the 39 seats, TimesNow gave it a better tally of 31 with arch-rival DMK predicted to win only seven and Congress being reduced to a single seat.
In Telangana, the creation of which may have jeopardised the chances of Congress,
K Chandrasekar Rao’s TRS is seen to be on top of the charts with 8 to 12 seats, according to CNN-IBN-CSDS Election Tracker and TimesNow-ORG survey. In Seemandhra, TimesNow-ORG gave BJP-TDP 17 seats and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress eight. CNN-IBN, however, predicted 11 to 15 seats for both. Congress draws a blank in all surveys.
In fact, the party seemed to be heading towards its worst tally in independent India and is expected to shed nearly 100 of the 205 seats it held in the 15th Lok Sabha. The most dramatic slide for the grand old party was predicted by Today’s Chanakya and News-24, which gave the UPA no more than 70 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha. TimesNow-ORG, however, gave it 148 seats. The Congress on Monday boycotted debates across TV channels saying that the exit polls never predicted the party to perform well, not even in 2004 and 2009 when it romped to victory. However, some of its leaders admitted in private that they were preparing to sit in the Opposition.
The party seems to be holding out well in Kerala, where it is predicted to get more seats than the LDF. In Karnataka, the Congress is predicted to get 12 to 16 seats. Unlike Jayalalithaa, her West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee’s TMC does not seem to enjoy a sweep. TimesNow predicted the party to get 20 seats while CNN-IBN gave it between 25 and 31. In neighbouring Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD was given 15 seats as against five for Congress by TimesNow.
In the battle ground states of Bihar and UP, the BJP is predicted to be the front-runner. In UP, CNN-IBN expected it to win between 45 and 53 seats with SP and BSP getting 10-17 seats each. TimesNow gave the BJP 52 seats.
In Bihar, unlike what has been reported, the BJP is seen to be outsmarting other parties, including Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U). BJP is expected to get between 20 and 28 seats in the State. In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat too, the party is cornering maximum seats. In Punjab, where the Congress was thought to be doing well, AAP seems to have cut into the vote share. In Congress-ruled Maharashtra, NDA may get 33 to 37 seats, leaving Congress-NCP with 11-15 seats.