After a month of high-pitch campaigning, most exit polls predicted a clear majority to BJP-led NDA in Maharashtra and Haryana. The exit polls coming just five months after Narendra Modi returned as PM with a huge mandate, seems to be a proof that the BJP governments in Maharashtra and Haryana have bucked the anti-incumbency factor.
In the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly, the India Today-Axis exit poll projected 166-194 seats for the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition and 72-90 for the Congress-NCP alliance.
The exit poll by News18-IPSOS gave the BJP a near-majority on its own by predicting a whopping 142 seats for the party and 102 for its ally Shiv Sena. The Congress and NCP will bag 17 and 22 seats only, it predicted.
The ABP-C Voter predicted 204 seats for the BJP-Shiv Sena and 69 for the Congress-NCP while the corresponding figures by Times Now were 230 and 48.
In Haryana, the extent of a BJP win was projected to be even more dominant. The ABP-C Voter forecast 72 and eight seats for the BJP and the Congress respectively. The CNN-IPSOS projected 75 and 10 seats for the two parties respectively.
The Times Now survey gave the BJP and the Congress 71 and 11 seats respectively. The poll of polls brought out by the NDA gave the BJP and the Congress 66 and 14 seats respectively in Haryana, and 211 and 64 for the saffron alliance and the Congress-NCP in Maharashtra.
The ruling party’s continuing popularity in the two states and bypolls in 51 assembly and two Lok Sabha constituencies in 18 states proves that the Indian voters are still behind the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In Maharashtra, the contest is between the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition against the bloc formed by Congress and NCP while Haryana is a clash between BJP and Congress with the fledgling JJP, an offshoot of INLD of Om Prakash Chautala, thrown in the mix.
Interestingly, the BJP brass focused exclusively on emotive national issues like Article 370, NRC and even Bharat Ratna for V D Savarkar in what appeared a bid to polarise the majority community. However, the opposition stuck issues like economic slowdown and unemployment as its campaign planks.
The elections are crucial for Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, novices who were plucked out of nowhere ahead of established leaders to helm BJP in states after the assembly polls in 2014. A victory for BJP will mark a major change in fortunes for them and establish the first-timers as new saffron satraps.