NEW DELHI – Exit polls are predicting two strikes out of three in the heartland states for the BJP and one for the Congress. While Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel gets to retain his job, his counterpart in Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, might just lose his, they indicate. There also seems a high possibility that Madhya Pradesh could go to the BJP — again, reported NDTV.
The biggest upset, though, could be reserved for Telangana, where K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi has been in power since the inception of the state since 2014. Three exit polls seem to be in no doubt that the BRS will be replaced by the Congress in this election. A fourth is also giving the Congress an edge.
For Mizoram, two exit polls feel a hung house could be in the cards.
Exit polls, though, can often get it wrong.
Nine exit polls on Chhattisgarh, by and large, predict a second term for the Congress, which has been banking on Bhupesh Baghel’s report card for the last five years. The number of seats allotted to the party has been within the margin of early 40s to mid-50s. The majority mark in the 90-seat state is 46.
Neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, though, could have bad news for the Congress, which might not be able to unseat Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The BJP’s three-time Chief Minister came to power yet again in 2020 despite a defeat in 2018, with the crossing over of Congress’s Jyotiraditya Scindia and his 20-plus loyalists.
The most definitive verdict is from News24-Today’s Chanakya, which gives BJP 151 of the state’s 230 seats, and the Congress 74. Others predict a tight race.
The election was, held amid much speculation of anti-incumbency against the BJP, which has largely ruled the state since 2004. With four terms under his belt, Mr Chouhan is one of the BJP’s longest-ruling Chief Ministers.
Rajasthan, which routinely votes out the incumbent since early ’90s, is apparently sticking to the custom, overturning Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s high hope of bucking the trend.
Seven of nine exit polls have predicted a comfortable victory for the BJP — only two give Congress the hope that it might scrape through.
Most exit polls expect the BJP numbers to stay above 100 in the 200-member house. Though election had taken place on 199 seats following the death of a Congress candidate, the majority mark will be 101.
In Mizoram, only two of five exit polls predict that the BJP and its ally, the Mizo National Front, might scrape through.
The chances of hung house in the northeastern state run high, with a multi-cornered contest that included the rising regional party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) which projected a young face for the state’s top job. All exit polls have given the new party a chunk of seats, pushing the Congress to the third spot in the state.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party which also joined the race, could also bleed votes for the MNF, which won 26 of the 40 seats in the last election.
For the Congress, the real sweet spot in this election could be Telangana, next-door to Karnataka, where it won a huge victory earlier this year, beating the BJP hollow. The party had launched a high-octane campaign in Telangana since, under the upbeat leadership of its young state chief Revanth Reddy.
Telangana has been out of the Congress’s reach since 2014, when the state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh, despite its contribution at the Centre to its formation.
With K Chandrasekhar Rao, who led the statehood agitation, heading the Telangana Rashtra Samithi — now renamed Bharat Rashtra Samithi in keeping with its leader’s national ambitions — there seemed little scope for the party to be dislodged from power.
The votes for this round of elections, dubbed the semi-final before the next year’s general election, will be counted on Sunday.
The results are expected to impact not just the BJP, which is hoping for a third straight term in 2024.
A positive outcome for the Congress in Chhattisgarh and Telangana can even raise its stocks within the INDIA alliance, giving it more heft ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.