Exit polls for the five state assembly elections, for which counting will take place on December 3, have come in. Some of the exit poll projections are surprising. India TV-CNX exit poll projection shows, BJP may get a nearly two-third landslide victory in Madhya Pradesh with 140 to 159 seats. Congress may get only 70 to 80 seats, says the exit poll. For Rajasthan, too, the exit poll projection is a bit surprising. Congress may retain power in that state despite a neck-to-neck battle with BJP. The projection says, Congress may get 94 to 104 seats and may stay ahead of BJP which may get 80 to 90 seats. The exit poll projection for Chhattisgarh is not surprising and Congress may retain power with a clear majority. There is good news for Congress from Telangana. The party may come to power for the first time since Telangana achieved statehood. If the projection proves to be true, Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao will be on his way out after ruling the state for a decade. The exit poll projection for Mizoram shows a hung assembly in the north-eastern state. Already reactions have started pouring in.
An elated Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was fighting with his back to the wall, said, he was confident since the beginning that his party would win 125-150 seats. He attributed this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and his government’s Ladli Behna, Ladli Lakshmi and Teerth Darshan Yojana schemes. Congress leader Kamal Nath took to Twitter and wrote, “the nation is run by vision, and not by television…When counting starts on December 3, the people of MP will put their seal of approval to a Congress government.” If BJP retains power, it will be a big victory for Shivraj Singh Chouhan. BJP leadership was worried about the ‘fatigue factor’ that was expected because Chouhan has ruled as CM for 18 years. It was because of this that BJP did not project Chouhan as its chief minister this time. Chouhan took this as a challenge. He toiled hard, addressed more than 150 public meetings. He went to each district and assembly constituency, and focussed on women voters with his attractive schemes. This was the reason why there was a quantum jump in the number of women who cast their votes this time, and this could prove advantageous for BJP. If the exit poll proves correct, Chouhan’s stature in his party will surely rise and his claim for the CM’s throne will become stronger. On the other hand, if the results match with exit poll projection, they could act as a speed-breaker for the political careers of Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh.
The situation is different in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Congress CM Bhupesh Baghel, happy with exit poll projections, says, his party will get more seats than projected. Though exit polls give Congress a majority, there is not much difference between vote share projections of Congress (43 pc) and BJP (41 pc). Though Bhupesh Baghel is again the frontrunner this time for the CM’s post, T. S. Singhdeo is also a strong claimant. In the last elections, the Congress high command had struck a two and a half year deal for both, but it was not implemented. On Thursday, Singhdeo said, ‘let the results come, and then the high command will decide’. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP lacked a strong leadership and its organization is fragmented. Bhupesh Baghel began his poll preparations a year ago, the party backed him and he implemented paddy purchase, and cow dung purchase schemes to attract farmers. If Congress gets a clear majority, Baghel will continue as chief minister. I think, T S Singhdeo will have to wait.
BJP leadership had high hopes in Rajasthan, but exit polls indicate a repeat of Congress rule. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s magic may work. This time too, small parties may play an important role. Exit polls have predicted 14 to 18 seats for independents and small parties. In vote share projections, both Congress(43 pc) and BJP (42 pc) are neck-to-neck. Last time, Mayawati’s BSP had won six seats, but Gehlot took all the six MLAs in his party. If Gehlot wins, Rajasthan will break a 30-year-old record of not repeating any party to rule after five years. On Thursday, Gehlot said, there was no anti-incumbency wave or anger against the CM, but the abusive language used by BJP leaders against the Congress, helped his party. Gehlot made one important point. He said, the manner in which BJP tried to polarize voters on lines of religion, could affect the results, but even if BJP succeeds, it will be the Congress which will form the government. On the other hand, BJP leaders claimed that the party will win more than 135 seats this time and will dislodge Gehlot from power. The Congress high command gave Gehlot a free hand during the election campaign, but BJP leadership delayed in bringing Vasundhara Raje on the dais. This led to confusion among BJP supporters, and Gehlot took advantage of this.
Exit poll projections predict KCR may be on his way out and Congress may form government. India TV-CNX exit poll projects 63-79 seats for Congress, and 31-47 seats for KCR’s party BRS. Vote share projections show, Congress’ share may get a 14 per cent jump, while BRS’ vote share may drop by 9 pc to 38 per cent. Telangana state was formed during UPA rule, but Congress never took credit for it. It was KCR who took the entire credit. Last time, KCR was so confident that he preponed the assembly polls by a year, but this time, the picture appears to be different. Telangana Congress chief Revantha Reddy is confident of forming a new government. He has even fixed December 9 as the date of his swearing-in. But KCR’s ally AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi rejected the exit poll projections and said KCR will retain power on December 3. Winds of change were already blowing in Telangana for the last one year. Congress leaders put in their best efforts, and managed to get support of Muslim voters, who were hitherto supporting BRS, because of Owaisi.
In Mizoram, exit poll projection shows a hung assembly, but Chief Minister Zoramthanga’s Mizo National Front is leading with 14-18 seats, followed by Zoram People’s Movement with 12-16 seats. Congress may get only 8-10 and BJP may get two seats.
The current assembly elections are being projected as a ‘semi-final’ for next year’s Lok Sabha elections. If Congress forms government in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, opposition parties, including the Congress, may claim that there is a nationwide wave against Narendra Modi. But I would like to remind them about what happened five years ago. In 2018, Congress won assembly polls in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and lost in Telangana, but five months later, when Lok Sabha elections took place, BJP made a clean sweep of all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan. It won 28 out of 29 seats in MP, and nine out of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh. I think, whatever results that may come on, it is difficult to say confidently that these results will cast a shadow over next year’s parliamentary elections. Though exit poll projects are not exactly results, let us all wait for December 3, when the exact results will come in. India TV has made special arrangements for live telecast of counting in all five states on December 3. My entire team of reporters and producers will be there on Sunday from 6 am onwards, with new and modern graphics. There will be panels of experts. Do watch the election results LIVE on December 3 with me from 6 am onwards.
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