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Home / Assembly Elections / Exit polls say CM Arvind Kejriwal, again; BJP may improve its 2015 tally

Exit polls say CM Arvind Kejriwal, again; BJP may improve its 2015 tally

Most polls expected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to improve its performance from the last assembly elections, when it won just three seats, but the party was far behind the incumbent.

assembly-elections Updated: Feb 09, 2020 00:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People wait in queues to cast their votes at Shaheen Public School polling station in the Shaheen Bagh area, which has been witnessing a peaceful protest against the Citizenship Act for several weeks, during the Delhi Assembly elections, in New Delhi, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020.
People wait in queues to cast their votes at Shaheen Public School polling station in the Shaheen Bagh area, which has been witnessing a peaceful protest against the Citizenship Act for several weeks, during the Delhi Assembly elections, in New Delhi, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (PTI)

As voting for the Delhi assembly elections ended on Saturday evening, five exit polls predicted a comfortable victory for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal — with the party expected to win anything between 47 seats (Times Now-Ipsos poll), which was the lowest estimate, to 68 seats (India Today-Axis poll), which was the highest estimate, in the assembly of 70 members.

Most polls expected the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to improve its performance from the last assembly elections, when it won just three seats, but the party was far behind the incumbent. The lowest estimate for the party was two seats (India Today-Axis) and the highest 23 (Times Now-Ipsos).

The Congress, all polls suggested, would come a distant third — either failing to secure any seat, according to two polls, or, at best, winning three seats (ABP News-CVoter).

Hindustan Times did not conduct any exit poll and cannot independently vouch for the methodology and the outcome of the different exit polls. Polls have also, in the past, read results wrong though they have usually succeeded in capturing the larger trend. The official results will be out on February 11.

Voting on Saturday happened in the backdrop of an acrimonious campaign over the past few weeks. Delhi appeared to see a dip in voter turnout compared to the 2015 assembly polls, when a record 67.47% voters exercised their choice. On Saturday, according to the Election Commission, the turnout was 61.7%. But this is a provisional figure, subject to change when the final figures are released on Sunday.

Over the course of the past month, the AAP focused mainly on the issues of local leadership, projecting Kejriwal as the CM, and fought the elections on its governance record — particularly improvements in public health, government schools, and providing electricity and water at subsidised rates. The BJP sought votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and banked heavily on polarisation, as it made the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, particularly in Shaheen Bagh, a central poll issue and alleged that the AAP was backing the Muslim-dominated protests.

The India Today-Axis poll, which has a credible record in predicting recent elections both at the national and state level, estimated that the AAP would win anywhere between 59 and 68 seats, and gave the BJP between two to 11 seats. The Congress, according to Axis, would not win any seat.

Axis also provided a regional break-up of the city — giving the AAP 9-10 seats in east Delhi, 9-10 in south Delhi, 9-10 seats in New Delhi, 7-9 seats in north-east Delhi, 9-10 seats in Chandni Chowk, 7-9 in north-west Delhi, and 9-10 seats in west Delhi. This indicates support across demographic segments, caste groups, urban and rural pockets, and classes for the AAP.

Among other surveys, the ABP-C Voter poll gave 51-65 seats to AAP and 3-17 seats to the BJP; the Republic-Jan ki Baat poll gave AAP 48-61 seats and BJP 9-21; the Times Now-Ipsos poll gave AAP 47 and BJP 23 seats; and the News X-Neta poll gave 53-57 seats to AAP and 11-17 seats to the BJP.

All parties, however, continued to project confidence.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari rejected the exit polls. In a tweet in Hindi, he said, “All exit polls will fall flat. Save this tweet of mine. The BJP will form the government in Delhi by winning 48 seats. Kindly do not blame the EVMs {electronic voting machines} and look for alternate excuses.”

Deputy chief minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said that the party was winning with a big margin. “I thank all the party workers and volunteers who tirelessly worked for the AAP in this election.”

Congress party’s national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that exit polls are only indicators, and there are several instances where these have “horribly gone wrong”. “In Haryana, one exit poll was giving us two seats but we ended up winning 31 seats there. You can never truly know what the voter is thinking,” he said.

The AAP and BJP each held meetings on Saturday evening to discuss the exit polls.

Commenting on the exit polls, Milan Vaishnav, political scientist and the director of the South Asia programme of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, “If the exit polls hold true, this will be a significant victory for the AAP and, correspondingly, a big defeat for the BJP. The less said about the Congress performance the better.”

Vaishnav added that BJP ran one of the most polarising elections in recent memory, ranging from fear-mongering about Pakistan to outright incitement. “The fact that such polarisation did not work will give succour to the Opposition. In the AAP, one saw a campaign uniquely fought on the back of programmatic development and public goods — a rarity in India.”

He pointed out that the outcome — if the polls hold true — also shows that the BJP did not thrive as a challenger in the city. “In recent memory, the BJP has done well to topple existing incumbents; it has fared less well when it was an incumbent itself.”

But Vaishnav added that it was important to look at the big picture. “Let’s not forget, Delhi is not representative of the Union and the lessons of this election cannot be simply extrapolated to the nation.”

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