The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exit polls enter on-target zone

New Delhi, Feb. 27: The much maligned pollsters have redeemed themselves and their methods.

In what has been considered one of the most challenging propositions of assessing the voter mood in Bihar -- where this time the divisions on caste, religious and political lines were sharp and perplexing -- psephologists have got it almost bang on target.

Both in Bihar and Jharkhand, pollsters have not only assessed broad poll trends correctly but also got the seat predictions accurately as revealed when the results came out today.

They did not have much problem in reading the trends in Haryana, where a Congress wave was evident. Perhaps, their only error is in their failure to assess the significance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal factor in Jharkhand.

Taking the honours is The Telegraph-STAR News exit poll. After the final round of voting on February 23, the exit poll declared the BJP-Janata Dal (United) combine as the leader with 98 seats.

The combine's tally, after the declaration of results for all the 243 seats late tonight, was 93 and it was projected to win around 93-94 seats.

In Jharkhand, the combine was projected as the leader with 37 seats in the 81-member Assembly. It won 35 of the 80 seats for which results were declared.

The projection for the RJD and its allies in Bihar, too, may be closer to the actual results. Against the projected exit-poll figure of 83 seats, the RJD and allies won 75, with results from 16 seats yet to come.

In Jharkhand, the Congress-JMM combine won 25 seats against an exit-poll projection of 28.

'Kingmaker' Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party has won around the same number of seats that The Telegraph-STAR News exit poll predicted. The party has so far won 27 seats against the prediction of 28.

Even the tallies for smaller parties and Independents have nearly matched the exit-poll predictions. In Bihar, 'others' were seen as winning 28 seats, which they have won. In Jharkhand, 'others' have won 12 seats against the projected 11.

Forecasting a hung Assembly, two other exit polls on television predicted the BJP-Dal (U) would emerge as the single largest pre-poll combine in Bihar, though their seat projections might not come as close to the actual result.

Only one exit poll had reckoned that the Congress-JMM could emerge the single largest pre-poll group in Jharkhand.

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