The journalists were unanimous in their opinion that the BJP faces challenges due to the ongoing farm distress in the country.
New Delhi: Every election sees multiple exit polls fuelled by a combination of television rating dynamics and psephology. One such effort panned out last Friday for the assembly elections in the five states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram.
The exit polls painted an interesting picture - contributing to the anxiety of political parties as well as observers of the great Indian festival of elections.
The central takeaway is that the Congress is predicted to return to power in Rajasthan, and gain ground in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. While there is a near consensus that the Congress will defeat the Vasundhara Raje led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Rajasthan, they are split over the other two states.
BTVI conducted an opinion poll of 10 eminent Indian journalists 24 hours before the exit polls on December 7. Interestingly, the opinion of these seasoned commentators, who have tracked Indian elections for many years, was also in line with the exit polls.
For the state of Rajasthan, senior journalist Vinod Agnihotri predicted a clear victory for Congress with seat share of 115, out of 199. Agnihotri predicted 70 seats for the BJP and 14 for others. The India Today-Axis exit poll made a similar prediction on Rajasthan with an estimate of 119-141 for the Congress, 55-72 for the BJP and 4-11 seats for others.
Another senior journalist, Rajesh Badal, predicted that the BJP will lose Madhya Pradesh and be in a close fight in the state of Chhattisgarh. Exit poll results conducted by Republic TV - C Voter, ABP News-CSDS and Today’s Chanakya predicted that Madhya Pradesh will witness a change in government after 15 years with a seat share of 104 to 126 for the Congress.
Senior journalist Ajay Setia’s predicted an edge for the Congress in Chhattisgarh with 44-50 seats, 38-45 seats for the BJP and 5-6 seats for others. The Republic TV - C Voter, India Today-Axis and Today’s Chankya suggested a range of 42-65 for the Congress in Chhatisgarh, limiting BJP’s seat share in the range of 21-43.
Another veteran commentator in BTVI’s poll of journalists, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, predicted that the BJP will be ahead of the Congress in Chhattisgarh and that the MNF will beat the Congress in Mizoram. His prediction is in line with ABP-CSDS on Rajasthan that gives 52 seats to the BJP and limits Congress at 35. On Mizoram, both the Republic TV-C voter, as well as theTimes Now-CNX poll, predicted an edge for the MNF over the Congress with 16-20 seats for the former in the 40 seats assembly.
The journalists were unanimous in their opinion that the BJP faces challenges due to the ongoing farm distress in the country and the final result of these five states will decide the course of 2019 election campaign for both the parties.
There was a consensus among all the journalists at the BTVI panel that the BJP had staged a comeback of sorts in Rajasthan in the last leg of campaigning due to better planning, as well as full-fledged support of the RSS. However, barring Pradeep Singh, none of the journalists believe that the effort will be enough for Raje to win an unprecedented second consecutive term.
The journalists also discussed in detail the increase in the trend of voters selecting “none of the above” (NOTA) option in deciding the fate of close battles between candidates.
The exit polls by different agencies as well as the predictions made by the journalists point to the fact that reading a largely issueless election is difficult and even small swings in vote share can make or break a party’s chance of coming to power.