The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP gets peek at figure of desire

New Delhi, May 5: The BJP-led alliance is expected to consolidate its position after the third phase of polling for 83 seats across seven states, according to an exit poll done by The Telegraph-STAR News today.

Based on the projections of the poll, the National Democratic Alliance is set to get a thin majority with 270 to 282 seats. The Congress and its allies will be a distant second with 167 to 179 seats and the others, which include the Left, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, may not even hit the triple-digit mark. This block is expected to get between 87 and 99.

The projections for the heartland showed the BJP had staged a recovery in Uttar Pradesh, held on to its position in Bihar and added to its 1999 tally in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The exit poll offered cheer for the BJP from Uttar Pradesh where the party adopted a three-pronged strategy of carpet-bombing the state with rallies addressed by its star campaigners, using the Pramod Mahajan-style of “micro-management” to ensure that the party gained from vote division in “marginal” constituencies and shifting the campaign focus from India Shining to stability at the Centre.

Of the 30 seats that went to polls today in the Bundelkhand, Avadh and Doab regions, the BJP is projected to get a maximum of 14.

An additional factor the BJP hoped would work in its favour was the complete involvement of the RSS. Sangh workers were brought from other states to strengthen the local force and man polling booths.

The Samajwadi Party, which bagged as many as 13 seats in 1999, is expected to lose six while Mayavati’s BSP, which got seven, may be down to five. The Congress is expected to double its tally from two in 1999 to four.

BJP sources, who agreed with this seat projection, attributed their gains to the division in the minority vote and the lack of enthusiasm in the community for their former “messiah” Mulayam Singh Yadav. The party’s tactic of confusing minority voters by periodically issuing statements suggesting a BJP-Mulayam Singh deal might have worked.

The Congress has apparently gained from this perceived split because wherever the minorities were convinced that it had a winning candidate, they voted for the party with far greater zest than they did for the Samajwadis or the BSP.

In Bihar, the other state critical to the NDA’s overall calculation, of the 12 seats that went to the polls today, the BJP-led alliance was expected to win eight and the rival side three. This means a no-gain-no-loss situation for either.

Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were the other states where the euphoria for the BJP — manifest in the December Assembly polls — was sustained, according to the projections. In Rajasthan, the party was set to win 20 of the 25 seats, up four from its 1999 tally.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP was forecast to win 11 out of 12 seats that voted today, up two on 1999.

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