The Bharatiya Janata Party could emerge as the single-largest party in three of five states, including Uttar Pradesh, which voted to elect new assemblies over the past month, exit polls said on Thursday.
The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party were locked in tight race in Punjab and the principal opposition party was battling with the BJP to retain power in Manipur.
1) Hung assembly predicted in Uttar Pradesh
In the politically crucial UP, all exit polls forecast a hung assembly. Two gave the BJP a clear advantage over its nearest rival, the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance while two others predicted a close fight between the two formations.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was seen as a distant third in all four exit polls available for the 403-member house.
The BJP would need to win 202 seats to secure a majority in the 403-seat assembly in Uttar Pradesh, where voting ended on Wednesday almost a month after the first of seven voting phases kicked off.
2) Drubbing for SAD-BJP combine on cards in Punjab?
In Punjab, all exit polls unanimously predicted a drubbing for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine. But the polls were divided on whether the Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party, which is fighting its debut assembly election in the state, will form the next government.
Two exit polls predicted a photo-finish while two other were split between the Congress and the AAP in the 117-member assembly. The halfway mark is 59.
3) What exit polls say on Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur
The BJP was seen as surging ahead of rivals in Goa and Uttarakhand as well. Official results for all five states are out on March 11.
In Uttarakhand, the BJP looked set to dislodge the Congress as four out of five exit polls gave a clear majority to the saffron party. One poll forecast a close fight in the 70-member legislature.
Three exit polls suggested that the BJP could retain power in Goa. The AAP, which ran a high-voltage campaign in its debut outing in the state, was seen as failing to have had an impact in the 40-member assembly.
But polls were split over Manipur, with one giving a majority to the BJP and the other to the ruling Congress.
4) Exit polls have gone wrong in the past
Exit polls have frequently gone wrong in the past, including in Bihar and Delhi in 2015. Analysts say that states with diverse populations and complex caste, community and religious affiliations tend to throw pollsters off.
“Exit polls are not able to assess the real voting patterns. The truth will be out on Saturday and we are confident of our victory,” said Samajwadi Party national spokesman Ghanshyam Tiwari.
5) Referendum on Modi government’s steps?
Victory for Modi’s BJP in Uttar Pradesh, which is home to 220 million people, would boost his chances of winning the 2019 general election and underscore his popularity after he made himself the face of the party’s campaign.
The PM would also see success as vindication of his sudden decision in November to abolish high-denomination banknotes to rein in corruption. The move was seen as politically risky.
With inputs from Reuters