Exit polls on Thursday predicted that the Congress could stage a big surprise by wresting power in Telangana while the BJP could trump the accumulated anti-incumbency of 20 years to retain Madhya Pradesh with a decisive mandate.
The votes for Assembly elections in five states will be counted on Sunday.
In Rajasthan, widely believed to be swinging in favour of the BJP given its tradition of alternating between the two national parties, two exit polls gave an edge to the Congress. Others forecast a close contest, with the BJP ahead.
In Chhattisgarh, most exit polls predicted that the ruling Congress might retain power in a close contest with the BJP.
In Mizoram, the exit polls showed a three-way contest among the ruling Mizo National Front, the Opposition Zoram People’s Party, and the Congress. Most gave an edge to the MNF.
Exit polls have a mixed record of success. If the numbers predicted hold on result day, a Congress victory in Telangana, on the heels of the win in Karnataka, could boost the Opposition before the Lok Sabha polls next year. Similarly, a BJP win in Madhya Pradesh would be encouraging for the party. It would be interesting to see how the BJP leadership deals with four-term chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, among the last few leaders from the Vajpayee-Advani era.