Mumbai: The Congress' slump at the polls is likely to continue in Maharashtra with the News18-IPSOS exit poll predicting a drubbing for the grand old party at 17 seats, down from 42 in the 288-seat Assembly. Adding insult to injury, the party is also likely to see bigwigs, including former chief ministers, suffer defeats.
As per the exit poll survey, the BJP is likely to get close to the majority mark on its own with 141 seats, while the Shiv Sena may hit triple digits at 102 seats. The NCP, too, is likely to take a massive hit, dropping from 41 to 22 seats.
While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray are among the likely winners, the list of probable losers includes who’s who of the Congress. Former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan are predicted to lose from Bhokar and Karad South, respectively, while Amit Deshmukh, the son of the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, is tipped to face defeat in Latur City.
Ashok Chavan faced BJP's Shrinivas alias Bapusaheb Deshmukh Gorthekar at the polls and Prithviraj Chavan was challenged by the saffron party’s Atulbaba Suresh Bhosale.
It’s unlikely to be smooth sailing for the NCP as well with Ajit Pawar, the nephew of party chief Sharad Pawar, tipped to be locked in a close fight in family bastion Baramati. Ajit Pawar was pitted against BJP's Gopichand Kundlik Padalkar.
The high-voltage electioneering by the BJP saw participation of a galaxy of leaders led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, as it continued to aggressively raise the nationalism plank by focusing on scrapping of Article 370 provisions on special status to Jammu and Kashmir and targeted the opposition on national security and corruption.
The opposition tried to corner the BJP governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra on the handling of the economy with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blaming the ruling party for the economic slowdown and unemployment and highlighting issues like "failure" of demonetisation and GST rollout.
The BJP contested on 164 seats, accommodating candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while the Sena had fielded candidates on 124 seats. On the other hand, the Congress has fielded 147 candidates and the ally NCP 121.
The News18 exit poll survey was conducted by IPSOS, the world’s most credible research agency, using meticulous planning, statistical rigor, high quality data collection, sophisticated analysis techniques and in-depth knowledge. A total of 72 assembly constituencies were selected out of 288 constituencies in Maharashtra and then 432 individual polling station areas were selected for conducting interviews.
At each polling station, 25 voters were randomly selected for conducting the exit poll. A total of 10,800 voters were interviewed from 72 assembly constituencies in Maharashtra.