The Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance in Assam was upbeat after exit polls said on Monday the saffron party was storming the northeast state to form its first elected government in the region. But the state Congress dismissed the forecast, saying it did not believe in exit polls as they have been proven wrong in most of the previous elections across the country.
The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, said: “One thing is sure, our alliance will get absolute majority. Congress will be decimated. All this will be clear on May 19.”
Atul Bora, president of BJP ally Asom Gana Parisad (AGP), said: “There was a clear wave in our favour…We are happy with the predictions.”
However, Ripun Bora, a parliamentarian and the chief spokesperson of the state Congress, dismissed the predictions. “Exit polls are always faulty. Congress does not believe in exit polls. Yes, it was a tough election, but we still hope to emerge as single largest party and form the government,” he said.
In West Bengal, the incumbent Trinamool Congress (TMC) chose to be a bit circumspect, though the Mamata Banerjee-led party was seen retaining power. “We will wait for May 19 and the actual results. The people of Bengal will bless Trinamool abundantly,” TMC leader Derek O’Brien said.
The opposition CPI(M) rejected the predictions. “Everyone has doubts regarding exit poll surveys in Bengal that were done outside polling booths, and it is likely that the true picture may not have come out,” said Md Salim, a CPI(M) politburo member and a Lok Sabha MP.
Former Congress state president Pradip Bhattacharyya slammed the exit polls as “bogus”, adding he never trusted them in his career.
Both the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK were confident of forming the next government in Tamil Nadu, regardless of the predictions. Barring one exit poll, others have given the DMK a shot at power.
DMK treasurer MK Stalin said he was confident: “We will win every seat other than the RK Nagar constituency.” Chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa is contesting from this seat.
For her part, Jayalalithaa, after casting her vote in the morning at the Stella Maris College, said: “Victory is ours. Wait for two days, then we can know the peoples’ verdict.”
A senior AIADMK leader, requesting anonymity, dismissed the exit polls saying that no amount of “propaganda” by the DMK can stop Amma from forming the government. “We are winning 150 seats and forming the government.”
In neighbouring Kerala, despite most surveys giving a clear mandate to the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front, Congress leaders put up a brave face and said it won’t be that easy for the opposition.
“There are many instances when exit poll surveys went wrong. (The)...last Bihar assembly election was a classic example. We still feel it is a close fight and we have a chance,” said senior Congress leader TN Prathapan.
Like the Congress, state BJP leaders too rejected the predictions of the exit polls --- many of which gave a couple of seats to the party. “We will improve our tally. We are expecting a 4-6% increase from the last local body election’s 15% vote share,” said BJP leader VV Rajesh.
However, the CPI(M) said all surveys clearly showed there was a strong anti-government wave in the state. “We are sure of a three digit total,” said party leader MV Govindan.
In the southern states. the last phase of polling ended on Monday.
(From HTC in Chennai, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kolkata)