It is a vote of no-confidence against the ruling Congress government in Uttarakhand. For the second time in succession, the voters of this new state appear to have rejected the incumbent government.
The HT-CNN-IBN exit poll — conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) — suggests that while there is no anti-incumbency wave, there are clear indications about a transfer of power.
The poll estimates that with 33 to 39 seats, the BJP will get a clear majority, or nearly so, in the new assembly. The state assembly has 70 seats, of which 69 went to polls on Wednesday. Although the Congress is likely to reach a respectable tally of anything between 21 and 27 seats, it will be well short of a chance of forming the government.
This is a near reversal of the verdict in 2002, when the Congress won 36 seats compared to 19 seats for the BJP, although both the parties had about the same share of popular votes. The remaining eight to 10 seats are likely to go to other smaller parties, mainly the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) and the BSP.
In terms of votes, only about 3 percentage points separate the two leading contenders. The BJP is expected to garner about 34 per cent of the votes, followed by the Congress with about 31 per cent. It means that both the leading parties have gained over the last elections, largely at the expense of independents and very small parties.
Parties like the UKD and the BSP were likely to play a pivotal role in this assembly election. However, the exit poll shows that while the UKD has registered a significant increase in its share of popular votes to, perhaps, double digits, the BSP may have lost marginally. But the votes do not translate for more seats for these parties, since both the big players have garnered votes and have edged out the smaller players. A total of 4, 282 voters were interviewed, in 32 assembly constituencies spread across the state, in this exit poll.
(Kumar and Yadav are social scientists with CSDS, Delhi. Karandikar is with Cranes Software International Limited)