Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Telangana Election Exit Poll 2018: The Congress was hoping to end its prolonged electoral drought as most exit polls aired by TV networks predicted that the party would make gains in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — all ruled by the BJP now. In Telangana, the ruling TRS was projected to be ahead of the Congress-led grand alliance.
In Madhya Pradesh, three of the four polls predicted that the Congress would emerge as the single largest party. Two polls gave it a clear majority. If exit polls are to be believed, Chhattisgarh could be heading for a photo finish.
While two polls gave the Congress an advantage, two predicted the BJP government may retain power. The BJP has been in power in both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for 15 years.
In Rajasthan, four polls predicted a Congress victory with almost all giving it numbers well over the halfway mark of 100. The BJP had ousted the Congress from power in the state in 2013.
In Telangana, exit polls showed that the TRS is in an advantageous position despite the Congress forging a grand alliance with the TDP, CPI and the Telangana Jan Samithi.
If these forecasts hold true, the Congress which has been losing state after state since the 2014 elections — of the 22 states that went to polls after 2014, Congress has won, on its own, only two, Punjab in 2017 and Puducherry in 2016 — will get a booster shot in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
The Congress suffered losses in Karnataka but managed to form Government with the JD(S) in Karnataka to keep the BJP out of power.
The outcome of the elections are significant as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan account for 65 Lok Sabha seats of which the BJP had won 62 in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave swept the Hindi heartland.
Agrarian distress emerged as one of the significant issues raised by the Congress in its campaign. A good showing in these states would prompt the Congress to step up its attack on the Government on farm distress, an issue which put the BJP on the backfoot a year ago in Gujarat as well.
Gains for the Congress in these states would also bolster the grand old party’s claim that it is the natural pivot of any possible pan-Indian alliance against the BJP. And will give Congress bragging rights on Rahul Gandhi’s leadership although it has maintained that it may not project him as the prime ministerial candidate signalling that such issues can be dealt with after the general elections.
Any setback to the BJP will also be translated into a more testy Parliament session beginning December 11, the day of the results.