Exit polls broadcast by Indian television channels have projected India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead in the key state of Uttar Pradesh while Congress is poised to return to power in the northern state of Punjab after a ten-year hiatus.
Most of the exit polls are unanimous that BJP is expected to return to power in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand the coastal state of Goa.
The BJP also appears set to win north-eastern state of Manipur from the Congress. If that happens in actual counting of ballots on March 11, this will be the second state in the region to have a BJP government after Assam.
However, here is a word of caution: Indian exit polls often go off the mark.
The high-pitched Assembly elections in the five states of UP, Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur concluded on March 8 with the last phase polling in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. The polling in all other states – Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand – came to an end earlier.
The election results will be a key test of Mr Modi’s popularity and a referendum on his dramatic decision in November last to ban high-denomination notes to crackdown on corruption, black money and tax evasion.
Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly has a total 403 seats. While three exit polls show a hung assembly with no party winning a clear majority. The majority mark is 202. Nearly all the exit show the BJP emerging as the single-largest party.
India News channel shows the BJP is ahead with 185 seats and SP-Congress getting 120. Times Now shows the BJP at 190 to 210 and the SP-Congress at 110-130. News channel ABP says the BJP will get 164-176 seats, while the SP-Congress Alliance about 156-169 seats. And India TV channel shows the BJP getting 155-167 seats with 135 -147 for the Alliance.
For Punjab which has 117 assembly seats, India Today-Axis exit poll show shows Congress ahead with 62-71 seats and Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at 42-51 seats. But India TV shows AAP winning 59-67 seats with Congress getting 41-49. India News shows Congress and AAP tied at 55 each. And similarly, News 24 has Congress and AAP tied at 54 seats each.
The BJP is expected to record a landslide win in Uttarakhand, which has 70 assembly seats, according to three exit polls but a fourth poll shows the BJP and the Congress tied. Three exit polls for Goa which has a total of 40 seats show the BJP is ahead.
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