Exit polls for the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where votes were cast Monday, have predicted a sweep by the ruling BJP-led NDA in both states.
While the polls were unanimous in predicting the NDA’s fortunes, they varied in their projection of seats for rival alliances — some forecast a further dip in the Opposition tally from 2014.
In the state polls held five months after the NDA returned to power at the Centre with a spectacular majority in the general elections, Maharashtra recorded an estimated turnout of 59.08 per cent, down from the 63.38 per cent logged in 2014. Haryana saw an estimated turnout of 65.67 per cent, about 11 per cent less than the 76.54 recorded five years ago.
Most exit polls show that the BJP-Shiv Sena combine is expected to win 194-243 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly. In 2014, both the parties contested separately, with the BJP winning 122 and the Sena 63. In Haryana, the BJP is predicted to win 71-80 seats in the 90-member assembly.
The exit polls brought bad news for the Congress, which is yet to recover from its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. The party, which ruled both the two states till 2014, may slide further in its tally in the two assemblies, according to pollsters.
In Maharashtra, exit polls have predicted 48-90 seats in total for the Congress and the NCP, which won 42 and 41 seats, respectively, in 2014 when they fought separately. In Haryana, the polls have forecast 10-12 seats for the Congress, which had claimed 15 seats five years ago.
The prediction has not come as a surprise though, considering that the Congress was in disarray in both these states. In Maharashtra, a host of key leaders had left the party in the months leading to the state polls and in Haryana, its former state president Ashok Tanwar walked out virtually on the eve of elections.
Maharashtra witnessed a largely bipolar contest with BJP and Shiv Sena fighting together against the Congress and NCP combine. Haryana witnessed a multi-cornered battle with BJP and Congress going solo while the Opposition INLD split with one group forming the Jannayak Janata Party.
This time, the BJP’s main campaign plank was the central government’s move to abrogate Article 370 to take away the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The disintegration of Opposition forces came as an added advantage.
The News 18-IPSOS poll gave the BJP a near-majority on its own in Maharashtra by predicting over 140 seats for the party. It predicted that the Congress and NCP would bag 17 and 22 seats, respectively. The ABP-C Voter predicted 204 seats for the BJP-Shiv Sena and 69 for the Congress-NCP.
In Haryana, the BJP is projected to register a more emphatic victory. The ABP-C Voter forecast 72 seats for the BJP and eight for the Congress. News 18-IPSOS projected 75 for the BJP and 10 for the Congress.
Also Monday, bypolls were held to 51 assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies in 18 states. The official turnout percentage is expected Tuesday.