BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is delivering his party its biggest electoral success ever while the Congress stares at possibly its worst result in the coming elections, according to two opinion polls.
Two news channels, NDTV and CNN-IBN, in partnership with Hansa Research and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) respectively, broadcast national projections on Friday.
According to a pre-poll survey by NDTV, the BJP and its allies are expected to win 259 seats -this is the highest any recent poll has given the NDA. The BJP itself is slated to win 214 seats. The Congress and its allies are estimated to win 123 seats. The NDA's vote share is 32.9% while the UPA's vote share is 26.9%.
The game-changer, according to NDTV, is UP, where the BJP has been a big gainer. The poll has given the party and its allies 53 out of 80 seats in the state. The SP is estimated to win 13 seats while both the Congress and the BSP are expected to bag 7 seats each.
The CNN-IBN-The Week survey has given the NDA 234-246 seats, with the BJP bagging between 206 and 218. The Congress is predicted to win 94-106 seats, with the UPA tally hovering between 111 and 123. The Trinamool Congress is billed to be the third largest party with 23-29 seats, while the AIADMK could bag anywhere between 15 and 21 seats.
Modi continues to be the most-preferred PM candidate, with 34% respondents picking him compared to 15% choosing Rahul Gandhi. In a direct face-off between the two, 44% chose Modi while 40% respondents agreed or somewhat agreed that Modi should apologise for the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The survey was based on interviews with 20, 957 respondents across 301 constituencies.
Friday's results confirm key trends that have been apparent in polls so far - of incremental gains for the BJP, a steady level of support for Narendra Modi, a more limited but loyal segment backing Rahul Gandhi, slow erosion of Congress prospects, Trinamool Congress emerging as the third largest force, and AAP struggling to get to double-digits.
In its February tracker, CNN-IBN gave the NDA anywhere between 212-232 seats, with the BJP garnering 193-213 seats on its own. The UPA was expected to win between 119 and 139 seats, with the Congress getting 94-110 seats.
In mid-March, NDTV had given the NDA 229 seats, with the BJP winning 195 seats while the Congress was predicted to win 106 seats.
A sting operation by News Express, a private television channel, had recently exposed polls as often riddled with malpractices. In past elections, particularly in 2004, polling agencies were known to have read the mood wrong.
This time, the convergence in the findings shows that come May 16, pollsters will sink or swim together, along with the man they are betting on - Narendra Modi.