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Both BJP, Congress jittery over Gujarat poll results

With not many hours left for counting of votes to begin in Gujarat, both the BJP and the Congress camps are jittery.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2002 00:32 IST
Saroj Nagi
Saroj Nagi

With not many hours left for counting of votes to begin in Gujarat, both the BJP and the Congress camps are jittery.

Both the parties claim a clear victory, with the BJP pointing to the exit poll results that have predicted a decisive mandate in its favour. The exit results have boosted the BJP’s morale, but the party awaits a formal and final verdict.

If anything, the party seems a little concerned about two inter-linked facts. One, that the overall voting percentage may have slightly declined over the previous assembly election and two, the voter turnout, particularly from the minority community, has been high in this election.

An indication of this came at the party's regular briefing. Spokesperson V.K. Malhotra attacked the Congress for encouraging the minorities to vote en bloc for one party.

He saw such "strategic voting'', which could be emulated in other states, as a violation of the principles of democracy.

The Congress, which came from behind for a neck-to-neck race with the BJP, has dismissed the results predicted by the exit polls.

Even as television channels flashed the results, AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat, Kamal Nath, reportedly assured party president Sonia Gandhi that the Congress would make a comeback in the state.

While dismissing the surveys, spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi told newspersons that the Congress has pegged its hopes of a "comfortable majority'' on the inputs from its state unit and its past experience with such exit polls.

"Several exit polls have been proved wrong in the past,'' Chaturvedi said. He cited the instances of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttaranchal assembly elections where the exit polls had gone wrong.

In fact, when the exit polls said that the BJP would retain power in Uttaranchal, the Congress state unit chief had even conceded defeat. But the actual results showed the Congress coasting to victory.

The Congress, which is sceptical about the size of the sample and other variables involved in such exit polls, maintained that the people of Gujarat were yet to come out of the trauma of the communal violence to disclose who they had voted for.

As the two sides wait for the final verdict that will be out on Sunday, it is clear that the outcome would lead to a churning both within and between parties as well as in the polity as such.

<b>Repoll in 15 booths</b>

The Election Commission has decided to hold repoll in 15 polling booths of Anand, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Patan districts on Saturday.

Polling in these stations had to be suspended during the elections on Thursday due to various reasons, including poll disturbances and faults in the electronic voting machines.

HTC, New Delhi

First Published: Dec 14, 2002 00:05 IST