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Naidu upbeat, not cadres

AP CM Chandrababu Naidu phoned PM Vajpayee to rubbish exit polls that said the TDP would get only three of the 21 constituencies.
PTI | By Shekhar Iyer & Ashok Das, New Delhi/guntur
UPDATED ON APR 22, 2004 03:58 PM IST

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu telephoned Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee on Wednesday to rubbish exit polls that said the TDP would get only three of the 21 constituencies that went to the polls on Tuesday. Naidu told the PM that the projection about the Congress winning 17 of the 21 constituencies was totally baseless.

According to BJP sources, the TDP leader said his party’s internal assessment was that it would do much better than projected by opinion polls and exit poll surveys.

Exit polls have showed a massive decline in the fortunes of the TDP-BJP alliance in the first phase of the polls. Reports from Andhra Pradesh say this has made TDP leaders worried and demoralised the cadres.

“Our people are going about the campaign as usual but they are no longer as upbeat as before,” admitted a TDP functionary in Guntur, the commercial hub of coastal Andhra Pradesh. A former TDP minister said he had heard reports that some of his party’s candidates had stopped spending money, thinking it was a losing battle.

To boost the morale of the cadres, Naidu has now embarked on a five-day tour of the south coastal region and Rayalaseema, where 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly constituencies will go to the polls on April 26.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, the BJP put up a brave front. It claimed that along with allies, it would secure 107 of the 140 seats that went to the polls on Tuesday.

A survey by the BJP's Research and Documentation Section said that in Andhra Pradesh, the party would get four of the 21 seats where polling was held with its ally, the TDP, getting five.

The survey claimed that the BJP would get 24 of the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, improving on its earlier 21.

It would also perform "extremely well" in Karnataka in both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls. BJP chief M Venkaiah Naidu said: "I am going to Karnataka to bid goodbye to chief minister S.M. Krishna who is a good man but his performance is poor and horrible."

In Bihar, where voting was held in 11 constituencies in the first phase, the BJP and its allies would get nine seats, according to the survey. The BJP would get five.

In Chhattisgarh, the survey claimed, the party would sweep all the 11 seats while in Jharkhand four out of six. In Maharashtra, the survey gave the BJP eight of the 24 seats where polling was held. The Shiv Sena is expected to get six.

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