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Exit polls hint at a hat-trick for Modi

New Delhi, Dec. 17: Narendra Modi is set to cruise comfortably to a third term as chief minister if exit polls after the two-phase Gujarat elections are an indicator.

The projected hat-trick is said to be the result of sizeable gains and marginal losses in every one of Gujarat’s four regions, including Saurashtra where political analysts had foretold a big vote depletion because of the debut of Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), a chip off the BJP-RSS block.

The other factors going for Modi included support from almost every major caste group, barring the Dalits, and a vastly reduced tally for the Congress, his main opponent.

Every exit poll has predicted the ruling BJP’s return with a bigger margin than in 2007, with variations only in the projected scale of victory.

ABP News-Nielsen initially gave a tally of 116, one less than in 2007, in the 182-member Assembly. Hours later, the figure was scaled up to 126, or 10 more. The most resounding figure of 140 came from News 24-Today’s Chanakya exit poll.

According to ABP News-Nielsen, Modi is set to scoop up a vote share of 45 per cent.

The Congress’s tally is projected to fall to 50 from 59, with a vote share of 36 per cent, 2 per cent less than in 2007. Keshubhai’s GPP is expected to end up with just two seats while the “others”, including Independents, could bag four.

The ABP News-Nielsen poll claims that far from damaging the BJP in Saurashtra — Keshubhai’s home turf — the GPP is set to pick up only one seat in the region — perhaps the one Keshubhai himself is contesting. Modi is set to garner 40 of the 54 seats, a loss of just three from 2007.

The Congress is seen to be losing one seat in Saurashtra. The party’s leaders had counted on Keshubhai’s outfit to split the BJP votes and expected gains for themselves.

The ABP News-Nielsen poll said the BJP was set to reap a bonanza in south Gujarat (picking up 27 of the 35 seats) and add to its kitty in central and north Gujarat.

The Aaj Tak/Headlines-ORG poll pegs Modi’s victory on a range of 118 to 128 seats, leaving 50 to 56 for the Congress, one or two for the GPP and four to six for the others.

The Times Now-C Voter poll gave the BJP 124 seats, the Congress 54 and others four.

The News 24-Today’s exit poll that predicts a hurricane-like Modi sweep with 140 seats has a 11-seat error margin that could accrue or detract from the BJP’s score. It gave the Congress 40 seats, down 19.

The poll was also caveated with the claim that the BJP could reach the 150-mark if preliminary voter turnout figures — the highest during the BJP’s 17 years in power — are revised from the 70 per cent put out after the final phase of voting this evening. Turnout has varied between 59 and 64 per cent in the past two decades.

Modi was quick to read the turnout as a sign of victory in the results to be declared on Thursday. “Such faith on your part is truly wonderful,” he wrote in his blog.