Assembly Elections 2021: All eyes on exit polls as Bengal votes in eighth and final phase
The eighth and the final phase of the polling in West Bengal, which began at 7am on Thursday across 35 assembly constituencies, will bring down the curtains on the assembly elections held in the eastern state, as well as those in the states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the Union territory (UT) of Puducherry.
Assembly elections in Bengal and Assam began on March 27, with the northeastern state voting in two more rounds on April 1 and 6. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, meanwhile, voted in a single-phase on the same day as the last round of the polling in Assam.
However, once voting comes to an end in Bengal, all eyes will be on exit polls conducted by news channels in association with various polling agencies. News channels will start announcing their exit polls after 7.30pm, in compliance with an order issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in March, which notified the period between 7am on March 27 and 7.30pm on April 29 during which “conducting any exit poll and publishing or publicising the result of exit polls by means of the print or electronic media or in any other manner shall be prohibited in the legislative assembly elections in the four states and one UT.”
An exit poll is defined as a survey in which voters, who have just exited the polling booth after exercising their right to franchise, are asked who they voted for, in order to predict the result of the said election. However, the actual results may be completely different from the exit poll results, as was the case in Bihar assembly elections, held in October-November last year, when the majority of the exit polls forecast a win, or at least an edge, for the opposition Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) over the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The NDA, as it turned out, managed to cross the majority mark of 122 in the 243-seat assembly, winning 125 seats as against 110 for the Grand Alliance.
West Bengal has 294 assembly constituencies, while Tamil Nadu has 234. Kerala and Assam have 140 and 126 seats respectively. Puducherry, meanwhile, has 33 legislators of which 30 are elected by the voters while three are nominated by the central government. The respective majority marks are 148, 118, 71, 64 and 16.
Counting of votes and declaration of results for all 824 constituencies are scheduled for May 2, as announced by the ECI.