A majority of exit polls, barring a few, on Thursday (April 29), indicated that Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress would retain power in West Bengal, though with a wafer-thin margin, while the BJP remains a close second, relegating the Left-led alliance to the number 3 position.
The 8-phase exhaustive polling in the all-important election of the year came to an end with over 76% voting recorded in the last phase on Thursday.
If the predictions finally come true on May 2, the day of counting, it would mean after several decades one-party domination in the state assembly would end. The strongest opposition the state had in the recent past was in 1996 when the Congress got 82 seats and the CPI (M)-led Left Front’s tally dropped to 157.
The predictions belied the hype generated by BJP star campaigners Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Both had been claiming that the BJP would cross the 200-mark this time.
TMC poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s prediction that the BJP’s tally would not cross three figures, too seems to be going haywire.
Only a couple of exit polls, including the one by the CNX-Republic TV, gave the BJP a slight edge over the TMC. The CNX-Republic TV predicts 138-148 seats for the BJP in the 294-member Bengal assembly while the TMC will get 128-138 seats. The CPI (M)-Congress-led joint front will settle for 11-21 seats.
Only one survey conducted by ‘Jan ki Baat’ gave the BJP a clear lead, predicting that it would get 162 to 185 seats while the TMC will fall way behind with 104 to 121 seats. The joint front would get 3-9 seats, the survey said. If the prediction comes true, it would be a huge gain for the BJP, which had won just 3 seats in the 2016 assembly elections while the TMC secured 211 seats.
Most other surveys put the TMC ahead though. According to ABP News-CVoters, the TMC would get 152-164 seats, followed by BJP with 109-121 seats. The Joint Front would get 14-25 seats, it predicted. According to this survey, the TMC would corner 42 per cent of the votes polled while the BJP would get 39 per cent votes. The Joint Front would get 15 per cent votes.
The Times Now-CVoter predicted 158 seats for the TMC, 115 for the BJP and 19 for the Left Front-Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) combine.
Another survey conducted by the Ground Zero Research gave the TMC 152-164 seats, the BJP 109 to 121 and the Joint Front 14-25.
Most exit polls mirrored the trend of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The TMC was ahead in 164 assembly segments in the parliamentary elections two years ago while the BJP took lead in 121 seats. The Left Front-Congress had bagged just 9 seats.