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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Exit polls 2019 say BJP will sweep Maharashtra, Haryana

If the exit polls turn out to be correct, the results will reinforce the BJP’s steady rise as a hegemonic force in Indian politics, cement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity further, help it sustain the gains it made in the Lok Sabha elections.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2019 00:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, center, talks with Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, left and Shivsena Chief Uddhav Thackeray during an election campaign rally in Mumbai.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, center, talks with Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, left and Shivsena Chief Uddhav Thackeray during an election campaign rally in Mumbai.(Photo: AP)
         

As elections for the Maharashtra and Haryana state assemblies concluded on Monday evening, five exit polls predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would return to power in both the states, with some predicting an outright sweep. They also suggested an abject Congress performance, with some predicting that it may witness one of its worst showings in the state assembly elections so far.

Hindustan Times has not conducted any exit polls on its own, or partnered with any agency for the purpose, and cannot independently verify the authenticity of the polls. The results of the elections will be declared on October 24.

In Maharashtra, the provisional voter turnout was 60.5%. In Haryana, the provisional turnout was 65%. Bypolls for 51 assembly constituencies, across 16 states and one Union Territory, and two Lok Sabha seats, one in Bihar and one in Maharashtra, were held on Monday as well.

If the exit polls turn out to be correct, the results will reinforce the BJP’s steady rise as a hegemonic force in Indian politics, cement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity further, help it sustain the gains it made in the Lok Sabha elections, establish it as the primary political force in both the states, signal its expansion among various social groups, and mark the rise of both Manohar Lal Khattar and Devendra Fadnavis as important regional leaders of the party. The polls also indicate that the numbers for the BJP are set to increase in both states, in line with its performance in the Lok Sabha elections, in which it managed to increase its majority in Parliament.

It will also reflect that the Congress, reeling from the electoral loss in the Lok Sabha, has not been able to recover electorally, raise questions about the party’s national leadership, deepen factionalism and internal blame game, dampen the morale of the rank and file further, and further deplete its shrinking social base. The outcome will be seen as a sign of the continued crisis in India’s regional parties, especially those outside the fold of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Maharashtra has 288 assembly constituencies. In 2014, the BJP, its current ally, the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the grand old party’s current ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), contested the polls separately. The BJP won 122 seats, the Sena 63, the Congress won a historic low of 42 seats, and the NCP got 41 seats. The BJP and Sena eventually got into a post-poll partnership.

For the state, the most optimistic projection for the BJP came from the News18-IPSOS poll. It predicted that the party would alone get 141 of the 164 seats it contested. Its now junior alliance partner, the Shiv Sena, would win 102 seats of the 124 it contested. This would give the alliance an overwhelming fourth-fifth majority in the assembly. The same poll gave the Congress a historic low of 17 seats.

The most conservative projection for the NDA came from the India Today-Axis poll, which was the most accurate with regard to the Lok Sabha polls. It predicted that BJP would win between 109 to 124 seats, and the Sena would win 57-70 seats. It gave the Congress between 32 and 40 seats and NCP between 40 and 50 seats. In such a scenario, too, the NDA will comfortably form the government.

The ABP-C Voter poll gave the BJP-Sena alliance 210 seats and the Congress-NCP alliance 63 seats in the state. The Times Now exit poll predicted 230 seats for the NDA and 48 for the Opposition alliance. The Republic-Jan Ki Baat poll predicted that the BJP would win between 135 and 142 seats, and the Sena would bag between 81 and 88 seats. This brings the NDA tally anywhere between 216 and 230. It gave the Congress 20-24 seats and the NCP 30-35 seats.

Haryana has 90 assembly seats. In 2014, the BJP won 47 seats, enabling it to form the government for the first time on its own. The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) of Om Prakash Chautala, which has since split with the emergence of a splinter, Jannayak Janata Party, won 31 seats. The Congress was a distant third with 15 seats.

For the state, the most optimistic poll for the ruling party, once again from News 18-IPSOS, predicted it would win 75 seats, fulfilling its stated election target. The Congress, the same poll said, would win 10 seats. The most conservative projection came from the Republic-Jan Ki Baat poll, which suggested that the BJP would bag between 52 and 63 seats and the Congress 15-19 seats. It gave the third position to the new party, JJP.

The ABP-C Voter poll gave the BJP 70 seats, the Congress eight seats, and others 12 seats in the state, while the Times Now poll gave 71 seats to the BJP, 11 to the Congress and eight to others in the state. India Today-Axis said they would release the Haryana projections on Tuesday.

Responding to a question on what the results would indicate, BJP’s national spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, “It confirms that the charismatic and credible leadership of PM Modi and the positive agenda of change being pursued by his government continues to soundly resonate with voters across the country.”

Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said: “The Congress party has always believed that opinion polls and exit polls are at best speculative tools that have been way off the mark more often than not... These opinion polls certainly do not reflect ground realities. Wait for the counting day.”

Analysing the numbers, Rahul Verma, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), said that if the exit polls trends hold, three observations could be made. “One, it shows Modi has succeeded in separating economics from politics. He has succeeded in creating a new norm in Indian elections and voters continue to repose great faith in him. Two, the BJP’s national and state leadership are in sync and one complements the other. On the other hand, the Opposition leaders have deserted their own party and state-level politicians are being left high and dry. The Opposition ticket now has a negative value associated with it.”

He added there was also a third, wider, social meaning to the election. “The Jat-non Jat or the Maratha-non-Maratha binary is a thing of past. A meta identity of cultural nationalism has subsumed many past fault-lines of Indian politics.”

Neelanjan Sircar, assistant processor at Ashoka University and a visiting CPR fellow, said that like the aftermath of the 2014 national election, Haryana and Maharashtra show spillover effects from BJP’s sweeping victory in the 2019 national election. But he believed that if the results reflect exit poll numbers, they raise questions about the state of Indian politics. “In 2014, these spillovers did not carry over to regional foes in Bihar and Delhi. Will it this time? The image of Narendra Modi loomed large in the electoral campaign. Will state elections continue to be a referendum on Modi’s popularity, or will state factors still matter?”

For now, though, it appears that the combination of national and state factors will continue to bring cheer to the BJP.