In a few hours, Maharashtra and Haryana’s voters let India know if they have handed thumping wins to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly polls — as projected by exit polls.
After a not-so-stellar performance by the BJP in by-elections across the country, pollsters see the results of the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections endorsing ‘Modi magic’ — a term which has come to be associated with Modi’s electoral pull — again.
Modi, who had largely stayed away from campaigning for by-elections, was the party’s most visible face in the run-up to voting in both states ruled by the Congress. He addressed 27 rallies in Maharashtra and 11 in Haryana.
The results are projected to alter the political landscape in both states.
Today’s Chanakya, which had correctly predicted the results of the Lok Sabha polls, gave the party a clear majority in both states.
If voters have gone by what is being projected, the Congress will not get a fourth straight term in Maharashtra.
Barring the Shiv Sena-BJP rule from 1995 to 1999 and Sharad Pawar-led Progressive Democratic Front government between July 1978 and February 1980, the Congress has never been out of power in the state since its creation in 1960.
Other pollsters too have handed it to the BJP in Maharashtra, but marginally below the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly.
Maharashtra registered 63.40% voting, about 4% more than the turnout in the 2009 assembly elections. It was also 3% more than the turnout in the Lok Sabha elections.
Mumbai too did better than its previous performance, with 52.43% voters exercising their franchise. The turnout in Mumbai was 46% in 2009 and 51.59% in the Lok Sabha polls.
In Haryana, the electorate set a turnout record of 76%. A high turnout, going by conventional political wisdom, is bad news for the incumbent — in this case, again the Congress.
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda played it cool on voting day, going for a game of badminton instead of his preferred sport, tennis, in Rohtak.
The exit polls, however, show the twice, back-to-back Congress CM might be left sweating on counting day.
Today’s Chanakya sees the BJP comfortably past the majority mark of 46 seats in the 90-member assembly.
The ruling Congress is eyeing a win for the third time in a row, mainly banking on the development card, while main opposition, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is seeking to return to power after a decade of hiatus, relying on the pull of its president Om Prakash Chautala and consolidation of the Jat vote.
The BJP, which has in the past remained a marginal player in Haryana politics and played second fiddle to parties like INLD and erstwhile HVP, which later merged into the Congress, is for the first time contesting on its own.
Just ahead of the elections, the BJP had snapped its 25-year old alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and parted ways with Kuldeep Bishnoi's Haryana Janhit Congress in Haryana.
Victories will not only reaffirm Modi’s appeal with voters but also silence detractors of his new party leadership, which was blamed for a string of defeats in by-elections that tempered the euphoria of his Lok Sabha triumph.
(With inputs from agencies)