Exit polls see Modi march, Rahul retreat

New Delhi | Updated on May 19, 2019

Most polls point to another term for the NDA and a big defeat for the UPA

Exit polls rolling out right after the seventh and final phase of elections got over on Sunday predicted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election, with most pollsters estimating a comfortable majority for the ruling NDA at the Centre.

The final phase of polling witnessed a provisional voter turnout of 61 per cent in 59 constituencies across West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.

Altogether in seven phases, an overall polling of 67.34 per cent, about 1.21 per cent higher than the 66.13 per cent recorded in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, was reported.

In Varanasi from where the Prime Minister is seeking re-election, the provisional voting percentage was 55.52 per cent, a little below the 58.35 per cent recorded in 2014. West Bengal persisted with the trend of violence and high voting percentage (73.40 per cent).

The BJP’s claim of “abki bar, 300 par (This time it’s over 300)” was echoed by a number of pollsters, with the Congress-led UPA trailing by 100-200 seats. The non-aligned parties, “third front” as it were, were projected to win anything between 69 and 138 seats, according to different polls.

The Nielsen exit poll predicted a heavy loss of 51 seats for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh — from 73 seats. The survey said the BJP’s total count could drop to 22 whereas the Mahagathbandhan of the BSP-SP-RLD could win up to 56 seats in the crucial Hindi heartland state.

However, the others predicted a comfortable majority for the NDA and did not estimate the BJP’s losses to be substantial in Uttar Pradesh. Those giving over 300 seats to the BJP included TimesNow-VMR, which predicted 306 seats for the ruling coalition; India Today-Axis, which gave a staggering number of 339-365 seats to the NDA; and CNN News18-Ipsos, which predicted that the NDA could win up to 336 seats in the 543-Member Lok Sabha. According to News24-Today’s Chanakya, the NDA’s tally could go up to 350.

Setback for Congress

The Congress and its allies were far behind with different pollsters giving them anything between 95 and 132 seats. According to Republic-CVoter, the UPA could get about 128 seats, while the TimesNow-VMR gave them 132 seats. ABP News-Nielsen gave the Congress-led UPA 130 seats.

The exit polls vacillated over the strength of the “others” or “third front” parties. The Republic-CVoter poll gave 127 seats to the non-aligned parties, the ABP-Nielsen poll gave them 135 seats while the TimesNow-VMR poll gave the third-front 104 seats.

However, the pollsters were unanimous in their finding that the Congress would be unable to stand up to the BJP in States where the two were in a direct contest.

Except in Punjab, where most pollsters said the Congress would win a substantial number of seats, Rahul Gandhi’s campaign was predicted to fail in capitalising on the party’s successes in the last Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where the BJP was shown to be almost repeating its 2014 sweep.

In Rajasthan, for instance, the TimesNow-VMR poll gave the BJP 21 seats, while Today’s Chanakya predicted the BJP would win all the 25 seats in the desert state.

However, exit polls are not always reliable in predicting poll outcomes. In 2004, for instance, almost all the exit polls were wrong in their projection of a BJP win.

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Published on May 19, 2019

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