The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll predicts last lap steam for BJP

New Delhi, May 7: An opinion poll held before the last phase of election for 182 seats shows parties outside the Vajpayee-led alliance staging an expected strong performance, but the BJP and its partners may not do as badly as thought earlier.

After including the results for the last phase, a Telegraph-STAR News opinion poll projects the National Democratic Alliance ending up with 267-279 seats. It means Atal Bihari Vajpayee will have either a slim majority or fall short by a slender margin.

The Congress and its allies are expected to get 171-183 seats.

In the seats going to polls on May 10 across the states of Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh, Vajpayee’s team is forecast to win 62-70 seats. The Congress and its allies are projected to score 60-68.

With opinion and exit polls predicting a close shave, Prime Minister Vajpayee has made a campaign course correction from governance and development to stability.

Speaking at Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, he said only the NDA can provide a stable government.

“If NDA does not get a majority, the country will slip into political anarchy,” Vajpayee said.

The Telegraph-STAR News opinion poll holds some surprises in the remaining 18 seats in Uttar Pradesh. It projects gains for the BJP at the cost of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and its ally from the region, the Rashtriya Lok Dal.

Left-dominated Bengal and Kerala, together accounting for 62 seats, are projected to return expected results. Of the 42 in Bengal, the ruling CPM-led front should win 31, two more than in 1999. In Kerala, the Left’s tally is projected at 13, up four.

The sheer weight of the formidable alliance led by the DMK and the Congress is expected to fetch no less than 30 of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.

Speaking at a massive meeting in Chennai today, at the same venue where Vajpayee addressed a rally two days ago, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked for the NDA to be thrown out because of what she called scams.

“Corruption has become rampant. Not a single day passed without scams,” she said with DMK leader M. Karunanidhi beside her.

No dramatic changes are expected in the 17 seats of Madhya Pradesh. Thriving on the demoralisation in the Congress camp caused by its recent Assembly poll rout, the BJP is projected to walk away with most seats.

In turn, the Congress is projected to wrest some seats from the BJP in Delhi, in tune with its showing in the Assembly polls.

As widely believed in recent weeks, the Congress disorder in Punjab would be to the advantage of the Akali-BJP combine. The survey does not foresee a Congress sweep in neighbouring Haryana, as had been thought.

The effect of the surprises is that the BJP, along with its partners, could pick up over a third of the 182 seats, though the final-phase states are otherwise considered a high-yielding area for Opposition parties.

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