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Exit Polls May Not Have Much to Cheer for BJP as Congress Appears to Gain Ground Ahead of 2019

Exit Polls May Not Have Much to Cheer for BJP as Congress Appears to Gain Ground Ahead of 2019

The BJP not only won Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan by a comfortable margin in 2013, but a year later, in the Lok Sabha polls, it bagged 64 of 67 seats up for grabs in these three states.

New Delhi: In what may not come as good news for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, exit polls on Friday predicted a tight finish between the party and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and a win for the opposition party in Rajasthan. Pollsters also forecast that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) will retain power in Telangana.

The results show that the BJP could face a tough challenge from the Congress in 2019 in states where it is pitted directly against the grand old party. The BJP not only won Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan by a comfortable margin in 2013, but a year later, in the Lok Sabha polls, it bagged 64 of 67 seats up for grabs in these three states.

In the 200-seat Rajasthan Assembly, India Today’s Axis poll put the Congress anywhere in the range of 119 to 141 seats, while predicting a loss of about a 100 seats for the BJP. According to the poll, Vasundhara Raje-led BJP would fall short of the mark and get anywhere between 55-72 seats.

The Times Now CNX poll gave a more conservative estimate and predicted 105 to the Congress and handed 85 seats to the BJP and 2 seats to other parties and independents. The News X Neta poll also gave a majority result for the Congress, predicting 112 seats for the party. The poll gave the BJP 80 seats and predicted seven seats for other parties. The C Voter poll on Republic TV too predicted a Congress win in the state. The C Voter poll handed the Congress 137 seats and predicted 60 for the BJP.

The only poll to give the BJP an edge in the state was the ‘Jan Ki Baat’ poll on Republic TV. The poll predicted a photo finish in Rajasthan, handing the BJP 83 to 103 seats, 81 to 101 seats to the Congress and 15 seats for others and independents.

Among the five states going to poll, political analysts had given an early upper hand for the Congress in Rajasthan leading up to poll date. Early predictions had handed the grand old party a clean sweep in the state, predicting a continuation of customary change of governments every five years in the state. However, following the release of candidates’ list of both major parties, the BJP appeared to have covered some ground. The Congress, however, remained confident of riding the anti-incumbency wave and forming a government in the state.

In Telangana, which went into snap polls after K Chandrashekar Rao decided to dissolve the assembly, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is set to retain power, if majority of exit polls are to be believed.

As per the Times Now–CNX exit poll, the TRS was slated to get 66 seats, the Congress 37, the BJP seven seats and AIMIM nine. India Today-Axis poll has predicted 79 to 91 seats for the TRS, 21 to 33 for Congress, 1 to 3 for BJP and 4-7 seats for AIMIM. The exit poll conducted by Jan Ki Baat said TRS would get 57 seats, Congress 45, AIMIM 6 and BJP 5 seats. The results, analysts said, suggested that the surge for TRS had come at the cost of the Congress, with the AIMIM emerging as a key factor, holding on to their stronghold and aiding the TRS in being able to capaitalise on minority votes outside the Hyderabad.

After the state was formed in 2013, the TRS had won with a simple majority holding onto 63 seats while the Congress only got 21. The TDP and BJP partnered up to win 15 and 5 seats, respectively, while AIMIM held onto its traditional strongholds in 7 seats.

In Madhya Pradesh, where Shivraj Singh Chouhan is eyeing a fourth term, exit polls paint a different picture. India Today-Axis poll has given between 102-120 seats to the BJP, and between 104-122 seats to the Congress. Times Now-CNX has given 111 seats to the BJP and 109 seats to the Congress, NewsX-Neta survey has given 106 to the BJP and 112 to the Congress. Republic-C Voter has given 90-106 to the BJP and 110-126 to the Congress. CSDS has given 126 to the Congress and 94 to the BJP.

If the predictions prove right, one could see between 6-8% vote share shift from the BJP to the Congress. While three terms of cumulative anti-incumbency will be a huge factor, the large-scale agrarian distress could be one of the most telling feature of these elections.

Anger against inflated gas cylinder and diesel prices, anger against demonetisation and GST, against mounting crop losses, could spell trouble for the BJP in the state where 73% of the seats are in rural areas. The fact that rural areas, where the Congress’ presence is said to be stronger than the BJP’s, have seen a remarkably high voter turn-out. A large section of government workers, who have been working on ad-hoc basis, could be the reason for BJP downfall from the mammoth 165 seats.

The state saw pitched campaigns in several constituencies, including Yogi Adityananth’s ‘Ali vs Bajrangbali’ statement which triggered a severe war of words. In the 230-seat Assembly in 2013, the BJP had won a whopping 165 seats, while the Congress got 58. The BSP had managed four seats and Independents won the rest.

As Raman Singh, the longest-serving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Minister looks to get elected for the fourth consecutive term, the exit polls predict a close battle in Chhattisgarh with only a slim advantage for the opposition Congress party that has been out of power in the state since 2003.

In Chhattisgarh, the BJP has cited Raman Singh government's crackdown on Naxalism to seek another term for the CM. The Congress has cited twin Naxal attacks days before the polls as “failure” of the BJP government’s policies. In 2013, the BJP had won 49 seats in the 90-seat Assembly, the Congress won 39 while BSP bagged 1 seat.

This time, surveys have given a slight edge to the Congress in Chhattisgarh. The half-way mark in the 90-seat assembly is 46. In 2013, the BJP had won 49 seats, the Congress won 39, while the BSP bagged one seat. The India Today-AXIS poll has predicted a massive majority for the Congress with 55-65 seats. According to the survey, the BJP tally will slip to 21-31 while ‘others’ will get 4-8 seats.

The Republic-Jan Ki Baat poll gives a possible majority to the BJP, but leaves the possibility of Congress cobbling together a coalition government. The survey predicts the saffron party will end up with somewhere between 40 and 48 seats and the Congress can end up with anywhere between 37 and 43 seats. If the margin of error swings in the favour of Congress, it will be a hung assembly and Congress can form the government with support from the JCC-BSP alliance, which the survey predicts will get 5-6 seats. Others have been given just one seat.

The NewsX-NETA survey has predicted a hung house with 43 for BJP, 40 for Congress and 7 for others. The Republic-CVoter survey has given a slim majority of 46 seats, the exact number required to form government, to the Congress and only 39 to the BJP and 5 to others.

The Times Now-CNX exit poll survey suggests that the saffron party will just about manage to hold on to its majority but its numbers will dip from 49 seats to 46, which is the exact number required to form government. According to this survey, the Congress will end up with 35 seats and the JCC-BSP alliance will manage 7 seats, while ‘Others’ will win 2.

The exit polls for Mizoram have predicted that the Mizo National Front's (MNF) brand of identity politics will edge out the 10-year-old Congress regime with the narrowest of margins. The BJP has been making consistent inroads in the north east since 2014 and Mizoram is the last remaining stronghold of the Congress.

The state has seen either the Congress or the Mizo National Front (MNF) in power since 1987. With the Congress winning 34 out of 40 seats in 2013, the polls will be key for both the Congress and the BJP. The BJP hopes to play kingmaker, fielding 39 candidates and increase its sway in the region, while the Congress is managing to hold on.

But the advantage, as per exit polls remained with the MNF. Times Now - CNX predicted 16 seats for the Congress, 18 for MNF+ and 6 for others. In 2013, the 40-seat Assembly had seen the Congress win 34 seats, while the MNF won five. The Republic-CVoter survey predicted 14-18 seats for the Congress, 16-20 for MNF+ and 3-10 for others. In 2013, the 40-seat Assembly had seen the Congress win 34 seats, while the MNF won five and the NewsX Neta survey has predicted 15 seats for the Congress, 19 for the MNF+, and 6 for others. The majority mark is 21.