No exit poll, barring one, managed to capture the mood in Bihar which overwhelmingly voted for an alliance led by chief minister Nitish Kumar, bringing him to power for the third time in a row.
Axis APM, the only exit poll that hit the bullseye, was not telecast on any television channel though it released the findings on its website. The poll predicted 169-183 seats for the Grand Alliance and 58-70 for the NDA.
But Axis APM was the exception.
Today’s Chanakya, the agency that accurately predicted the outcome of last year’s Lok Sabha wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, got it horribly wrong this time. Instead of Nitish Kumar, it forecast a two-thirds majority for the NDA with 144-166 seats. By evening, the NDA’s tally was just about 60.
Around the same time that BJP leaders conceded defeat and picked up the phone to congratulate Nitish Kumar on Sunday, Today’s Chanakya too admitted it had made a mistake.
“We sincerely apologise all our friends & well wishers for not able to predict Bihar. Congratulations to the winning alliance,” it tweeted.
The agency did not attempt to explain why it was so wide off the mark.
But psephology is tricky business, experts say, some arguing it is as much an art as science.
Already, there is speculation in political circles that the exit poll findings of one agency could have been swayed by the surveys it did for a particular party.
Television channel NDTV too predicted a BJP-led government in Bihar. The ABP-Nielsen exit poll foresaw a Grand Alliance victory but failed to anticipate the extent of the success and the BJP’s reduced tally. The India Today-Cicero exit poll and two others predicted a photo finish. Sunday saw a sweep in favour of the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad combine.