Exit polls at the conclusion of the end of voting in Telangana, the last of the five States that polled on Thursday, predicted a BJP victory in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and a close contest with an edge to the Congress in Chhattisgarh.
The biggest upset was predicted for the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which has been in power since the inception of the State of Telangana. Pollsters predicted a victory for the resurgent Congress in the southern State. The groundswell of support that the Congress has been getting during the campaign was gauged by the pollsters as a sign of victory. In the southern State, while the BRS has run a popular government with a galaxy of welfare schemes, the Congress has a novelty factor. The voter fatigue with the incumbent government was exploited by the enthusiastic campaign run by the Congress, as per the results shown by the exit polls.
Three of the six polls that came out till late evening predicted a Congress victory in the 119-member Telangana Assembly. The India TV-CNX poll gave the Congress 63–79 seats, while News 24-Today’s Chanakya poll said the Congress is likely to get 71 seats. The Republic TV-Matrize poll predicted between 58 and 68 seats for the Congress in the southern State. The halfway mark for getting a clear majority in the House is 60 seats.
Mixed bag at Mizoram
In the north-eastern State of Mizoram, the pollsters had a mixed bag. While two exit polls, Republic TV-Matrize and ABP News-C Voter predicted a victory for the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), another poll by Jan Ki Baat predicted that the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) is likely to form the government with 15–25 seats in the 40-member Assembly. Two other pollsters predicted a hung house in Mizoram.
In Rajasthan, pollsters saw a tough contest, with a majority of them giving an edge to the BJP. The outliers were IIndia Today-Axis My India, which gave the Congress 86–106 seats in the 200-member Assembly in a neck-to-neck fight, and the India TV-CNX poll, which gave the Congress between 94–104 seats. In a State where the tradition of voting out the incumbent government has continued for three decades, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot seemed to have fought back on the strength of his various welfare programmes, which have consolidated the Dalit-Tribal population as well as the Muslims behind him. Among the dominant communities, while the Jats are divided between the Congress and the BJP, there is a consolidation of Rajputs, upper castes, and the Gujjars behind the BJP.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress was the favourite to win some months back, the BJP has fought back, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan predicted to win a fifth term. The most conclusive poll was News 24-Today’s Chanakya, which gave the BJP 151 of the State’s 230 seats, while both the India Today-Axis My India and India TV-CNX polls predicted 140-162 and 140-159 seats, respectively, for the BJP.
The pollsters predicted a much closer contest in Chhattisgarh than the previously surmised clear majority for Congress. While the polls showed the BJP to be slightly lagging behind, between 35 and 45 seats, the Congress was shown to be between 45 and 55 seats in the 90-member Assembly.