The all-out aggressive campaign unleashed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the just-concluded Assembly elections in four states and a Union Territory is set to get big gains for the party if the exit polls are to be relied on.
It has managed to shake up the politics of West Bengal in a big way. From bagging three seats in the 2016 Assembly polls, the BJP has emerged as the main rival of TMC which had swept the last two Assembly elections. From getting a 10 per cent vote share in 2016, it is likely to bag nearly 43 per cent of the votes.
It is expected to be a neck-and-neck fight between the ruling TMC and the BJP in West Bengal as various exit polls are divided on the results. While a few like C Voter and Today Chanakya have given a clear lead to the TMC, others like CNX and Jan Ki Baat have given it to the BJP. As per India Today Axis My India poll – that has a high success rate of getting their polls right – it is a close fight with the BJP having an edge.
The various exit polls are more in agreement where the other states are concerned with the BJP retaining Assam, Pinarayi Vijayan returning with a thumping win, Tamil Nadu voting for a change in favour of the DMK and Puducherry going saffron with the BJP.
The big takeaways from the exit polls—
The high-decibel campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and party president J.P. Nadda in the middle of a Covid-19 surge is likely to get good results for the BJP, even if the party fails to form the government. The BJP has managed to polarise the electorate and entrench itself as one of the main parties in a state that was influenced by Left ideology for the longest time.
If Mamata Banerjee manages to retain the state despite the BJP’s blitzkrieg and poaching of her senior leaders, she will emerge as the fulcrum for the Opposition parties with the third straight victory.
BJP’s polarisation strategy seems to have worked in Assam too as it is set to retain the state as per the exit polls. The polls show that the state almost voted like two states with upper Assam – having a majority Hindu population – going with the BJP, and lower Assam and Barak Valley largely voting for Congress-AIUDF alliance.
It seems like the end of the road for Congress coming up with a respectable showing only in Assam, predicted to win around 50 seats along with Ajmal Badruddin’s AIUDF. If the exit polls stand on the counting day on May 2, the Congress failed to get its act together in the only state where it had semblance of a chance. It also failed to cash in on the anti-CAA sentiment.
For the BJP, on the other hand, its headache regarding Assam will start now. Tipped to win the elections, the party will have to make the tough decision of choosing the chief minister – whether to continue with Sarbananda Sonowal or to reward Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has been the party’s key person, not only in Assam but the entire Northeast.
The biggest shocker for the Congress is likely to come from Kerala, where Vijayan is likely to win the elections as per all the exit polls. The party reserved its most heavyweight campaigning for Kerala, with Congress leader and MP from the Wayanad Rahul Gandhi focusing on the state. While the BJP still has not been able make much of a dent in the southern state, it is likely to gain at the cost of UDF-Congress alliance.
Congress is likely to be a part of the government only in Tamil Nadu, piggybacking on DMK. The state appears to have voted for a change, getting rid of AIADMK in favour of DMK’s Stalin, who has been waiting in the wings for long. The grand old party is also set to lose Puducherry to the BJP, giving the saffron party a toehold in the region.