If the exit poll outcomes are anything to go by, the BJP's bargain to go solo in Maharashtra has paid off, and the Modi wave is still alive.
Results emerging from four different exit polls conducted by news channels barely hours after the voting ended on October 15, have predicted that BJP will emerge as the single largest party in Maharashtra, and possibly even get an absolute majority.
Of the 4 exit polls, 3 have shown that it will fall short of 1 to 21 seats and need help from other parties, and all eyes are on who the BJP will shake hands with.
Maharashtra witnessed a unique five-cornered contest this time, after long standing alliances between Sena-BJP and Congress-NCP broke, and for any party to form the government on its own, it will need to reach a tally of 145 seats, of the total 288.
The exit-polls conducted by CNN-IBN Today's Chanakya, ABP News-AC Nielsen, C-Voter and Cicero show that BJP will win anywhere between 124 to 151 seats.
This means it might be left with a gap of 21 seats or less to form majority. The Shiv Sena, which based it campaign on the issue of identity and portrayed BJP as a traitor, will come second with about 56 to 77 seats, it predicted.
Meanwhile, the exit polls do not bring good news for the Congress and NCP, which are predicted to witness one of their worst performances scoring below 40 seats.
MNS which currently has 13 seats in the state assembly might fare in the range of 5 to 22 seats.
While 'Today's Chanakya', the poll survey that was almost on the spot in the Lok Sabha polls, has predicted an absolute majority for the BJP with 151 (± 9 seats), the other three exit-poll outcomes given by ABP News-AC Nielsen, Times Now-C-Voter and India Today-Cicero have put the BJP at 144, 124 and 129 seats.
If the BJP does get an absolute majority, then it will depict a tectonic shift in equations, where Sena might sit in the Opposition as the second largest party.
But if the BJP ends up getting 124 seats, then it will need 21 odd seats to win majority, for which it might need to take Shiv Sena's help, unless the others and MNS make up for the gap.
According to BJP sources, the BJP will try to keep the Sena out of government formation following the recent bitterness that has emerged between the two after the split. There are rumours of BJP working out some understanding with the NCP of giving outside support.
Shiv Sena has dismissed the results saying it is an academic exercise. "How many times has an exit poll revealed the right results? However, if it is taken seriously, then one trend is certain: that the Congress-NCP is on a descend. But where Sena is concerned, we are sure of a thumping win," Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that Congress doesn't believe in exit-polls. "It is unscientific and people will be forced to bite their tongue on October 19. The Modi wave has receded and we will be back in power," he said.
Meanwhile the MNS, which the exit-polls have almost discounted, is rebutting its claims. "We will get many more than predicted by the polls," MNS leader Pravin Darekar said.