Barely five months before the Lok Sabha elections, exit polls on Wednesday predicted a sweep for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi assembly elections.
Crucially, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is projected make a strong debut in Delhi, where the Congress may lose power after 15 years.
The early indicators are sure to enthuse the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee and Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi.
He was the Hindu nationalist party’s star campaigner in all four states and did not refrain from attacking the top Congress leadership, which, on the other hand, chose to ignore his barbs.
The state elections have been billed as the semi-final before the final battle in the general elections due by April-May 2014. They have also been projected as a popularity test for Modi.
For the BJP, victory in these four states, which account for 72 of the total 543 Lok Sabha seats, would strengthen Modi’s bid to bring the saffron party back to power at the Centre after 10 years.
If the exit poll predictions come true, the BJP is headed for a hat-trick in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and will oust the Congress in Rajasthan.
Delhi is predicted to go to the BJP too, but the big splash will be the emergence of Kejriwal’s AAP, which according to five different exit polls is likely to get as many as 17 seats.
Delhi rises to the occasion with record 67% turnout
In Delhi, which witnessed record voting of around 67% on Wednesday, the BJP will win 34 of the 70 seats, with a 32% vote share, according to a C fore exit poll.
The party had won 23 seats in 2008.
An ABP-Nielsen survey gives 37 seats to the BJP in the Capital.
According to the surveys, it’s curtains for the ruling Congress, which will get between 16 (Nielsen) and 20 (C fore) seats — down from the 43 it won in 2008.
Some pollsters are split on the Delhi outcome. While some point to a hung House, others are giving the BJP a slender majority.
The Congress is chasing a fourth successive win in Delhi under CM Sheila Dikshit.
"It is good that people in great numbers participated in voting. But I cannot say about the results. I am not an astrologer to predict the result. Let us see what happens on December 8,” she said when asked about exit polls predicting a defeat for the Congress.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal will make a strong debut with 14 seats and 25% of the vote share, says the C fore survey. The Nielsen survey gives the AAP 15 seats.
Voters queued up through the day — and also night — to shatter the previous best of 61.75% registered in 1993, the first elections to the state assembly.
In an unprecedented exercise, voting went on till 9.30pm — four-and-a-half hours past the 5pm deadline — when the last ballot was cast by waiting voters in a booth in Okhla assembly segment.
"1.72 lakh voters were in queue by 5pm. So, we decided to allow all those who were in queue to vote even if it goes till late in the evening," an election commission official said.
“The election was incident free,” Delhi’s chief electoral officer Vijay Dev told a press conference. “The young have broken all stereotypes. They want to vote.”
Shivraj on track for hat-trick in Madhya Pradesh
File photos of (Clockwise) BJP leaders Harsh Vardhan (Delhi), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan) and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. (Photo: Agencies)
In MP, surveys project CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan will score a hat-trick for the BJP.
The C fore exit poll gives the party 135 of the total 230 seats, with a vote share of 39%, while the Nielsen survey pegs it at 138.
A CNN-IBN—The Week survey
gives the saffron party 136-140 seats. The BJP had won 143 seats in 2008.
The exit polls give the Congress 77-84 seats. By this count, the Congress will improve on its 2008 showing of 71 seats, but fail to dethrone Chouhan yet again.
Battling price rise and allegations of corruption nationally, the Congress had tried to put the spotlight on the BJP government’s failures in MP.
Pollsters have been unanimous in their pre-poll and post-poll surveys that the Congress has failed to convey its message effectively to voters. Saffron surge in Rajasthan
In Rajasthan, surveys say the BJP will dethrone the Congress government led by CM Ashok Gehlot.
According to C fore, the saffron party will win 111 of the 200 seats, with a 40% vote share. The CNN-IBN exit poll gives the party 126-136 seats. The BJP had won 78 seats in 2008.
The C fore survey gives 73 seats to the Congress, a comedown from the 96 it had won five years ago. The CNN-IBN has pegged it even lower at 49-57.
The Congress had hoped to retain Rajasthan in view of some populist schemes by Gehlot, but infighting, problems in ticket distribution and an aggressive campaign by the BJP looks to have stolen its thunder. Raman Singh expected to scrape through to hat-trick in Chhattisgarh
In Chhattisgarh, CM Raman Singh is poised to score a hat-trick for the BJP, but barely so.
C fore predicts the BJP will get 46 of the 90 seats, with a 42% vote share. It says the Congress will improve from 38 seats in 2008 to 42 this year.
This showing will give Singh a slim majority and not the comfort he enjoyed with 50 seats the party had won in 2008.
The CNN-IBN survey gives the BJP 45-55 and the Congress 32-40 seats in Chhattisgarh.
The Congress had mounted a strong campaign even after losing many of its top leaders in the state in a Maoist ambush in May. Counting on December 8
Counting of votes in these four states will be held on December 8. The counting for Mizoram polls will be held the next day.
In accordance with the findings of the exit polls, Chouhan and Singh will join Modi as the BJP CMs who have scored hat-tricks.
Modi had registered his hat-trick in Gujarat a year ago — on December 21. This had strengthened his case for a bigger role nationally.Exit polls: C-fore
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