As the voting has ended in the second phase of the Gujarat assembly elections, exit polls predict a strong victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). After what NDTV has described as an “aggressive” election campaign was led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP is expected to return to power in Gujarat for its fifth consecutive term.
The second phase of the voting, which took place this Thursday, December 14, saw a 68.7 percent voter turnout, making the overall turnout less than the 71.3 percent recorded in the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections. With the counting of the votes taking place on December 18, the media frenzy surrounding the Legislative Assembly elections shows no sign of weakening.
Dozens of exit polls have sprouted in Indian media following the closing of the polls, with some of them showing significantly different predictions. However, the most reliable, and therefore the most frequently quoted polls have all predicted a decisive victory for Prime Minister’s Modi’s BJP.
According to an early forecast by the Times of India Online-CVoter exit poll, the BJP is set to retain power in Gujarat, most likely securing 111 seats in the 182-member state assembly. The prospect for the Indian National Congress and its allies is not that bright, with the poll predicting them finishing a distant second with just 71 seats.
Cvoter also predicts a win for the Saffron party in Himachal Pradesh, expecting it to gain 15 seats in the present Assembly. If the Cvoter predictions are true, the BJP will have six seats more than the 35 necessary to achieve the majority vote in the 68-seat Assembly. The ruling Congress, which held the 36-seat majority in the Assembly until the elections, is expected to lose 9 seats and drop down to just 25.
The forecast from Times Now-VMR expects much fewer votes for Congress in Gujarat, predicting that their 66 seats will be no match for the BJP’s anticipated 113. One of the more surprising polls came from Today’s Chanakya, suggesting that Congress won’t be able to gain more than 47 seats in the assembly. Today’s Chanakya, one of the leading public opinion polling companies in India, expects the BJP to win the election by a landslide, securing 135 seats. Their Himachal Pradesh exit poll does not differ much, predicting the BJP seizing power from the ruling Congress with 55 seats.
A poll from Axis My India showed the smallest difference between the seats both parties are expected to secure, predicting 75 seats for Congress and 106 for BJP, 14 more than the 92 seats necessary for them to achieve a majority.
The poll of polls ran by the Times of India ratifies most of these polls, anticipating a win for BJP both in Gujarat and in Himachal Pradesh, securing 119 and 46 seats in the respective Assemblies. The ultimate poll shows no prospect of Congress securing the majority, expecting it to win just 62 seats in Gujarat and no more than 21 in Himachal Pradesh.
Why the media frenzy?
According to the polls, it’s highly unlikely that other parties will win any seats in what has now become one of the most closely contested Assembly elections in India. The Hindu and Times of India both agree on the fact that today’s votes will set the tone for the upcoming Assembly elections in 2018.
The forthcoming elections have the potential to shake up the current political landscape in India, and might even bring significant changes in what is now a pretty homogenous ruling structure.
Despite most exit polls predicting a clear and decisive victory for the Prime Minister’s native party, the rise in the votes for Rahul Gandhi’s Congress can be used as a measurement of Prime Minister’s popularity. After a high-profile campaign in the Gujarat state, Modi’s popularity has shown a significant decline.
With more and more Indians casting their vote in favor of the often ridiculed Congress president Rahul Gandhi, it seems that the “Modi wave” might have lost some of its strength in India’s border states.