New Delhi, May 12: Three independent exit polls this evening predicted in unison the likely emergence of a BJP-led government after the results for the Lok Sabha elections are declared on Friday, but massive variations in their projections for different states underlined the inherent uncertainty that marks such estimation exercises.
All three polls by television channels in collaboration with polling research agencies suggest that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister, and two of these predicted the worst seat tally for the Congress in its history.
The polls — by television channels ABP News, CNN IBN and Times Now — also gave the Trinamul Congress between 20 and 31 seats, numbers that, if vindicated on counting day, could propel West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party to the third largest in the new Lok Sabha.
At least two of the polls predicted a rout for the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar. Nitish Kumar’s party, if these polls are right, could end up with five or fewer seats, a drop of 15 or more from the 2009 tally of 20. However, the Times Now-ORG India poll gave the JD(U) 10 seats and zero to the RJD of Lalu Prasad.
The BJP is expected to be the big gainer in Bihar, with the polls predicting anywhere between 21 and 28 seats for the party and its allies, the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party led by Upendra Kushwaha.
As the last phase of the general election ended this evening, the exit poll by ABP News and Nielsen showed that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance would get 281 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, leaving the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance with 97 seats.
The CNN-IBN poll, conducted in association with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and Lokniti, projected an NDA tally of 270 to 282 seats, and the UPA count between 92 and 102. The Congress alone was projected as likely to secure between 79-87 seats.
The Grand Old Party of Indian politics, the Congress, has never secured fewer than the 114 seats it won in 1999.
The poll by Times Now and ORG India put the NDA tally at 249 seats, with the BJP alone grabbing 218 seats, and 148 seats for the UPA.
The polls also predicted that Jayalalithaa would dominate Tamil Nadu.
In Patna, political parties went into denial mode as TV channels relayed their exit polls. Congress president Ashok Choudhary, who held a press meet earlier in the day to claim that the RJD-Congress alliance would win at least 25 of the 40 seats, tweeted: “I have never been a fan of exit polls. I have always thought that the exit polls are over-rated.” JD(U) spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said he would prefer to wait for May 16 when the real results are declared. “The figures shown by the exit polls do not match the ground reality,” he added.
During campaigning, both the BJP and RJD had claimed that they would sweep all the 40 seats. The JD(U) had remained silent on numbers. However, chief minister Nitish Kumar had predicted that BJP leaders would be “shocked” when the results were announced. “Many of the Lok Sabha seats are witnessing a neck-and-neck fight and it can go to any of the three contestants,” conceded a RJD leader, stressing that nobody was certain which way the results in seats such as Pataliputra, Munger and Banka would go.
The RJD outright rejected the exit polls. “Past experiences suggest that the exit polls are more an invention of unqualified imagination rather than scientific data. I firmly believe that the RJD-Congress alliance will not get less than 24 seats in Bihar,” RJD’s national spokesperson Manoj Jha said.
Surprisingly, even the BJP, which should have been happy, rejected the findings of the exit polls. “The BJP will get more than what is being projected,” said former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who still believes the party would get more than 30 seats.