Agencies/ New Delhi
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance is likely to win a clear majority in parliament after a mammoth general election that ended yesterday, most exit polls showed, a far better showing than expected in recent weeks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced criticism early on in the campaign for failing to create jobs for youth and for weak farm prices and the election race was thought to be tightening with the main opposition Congress Party gaining ground.
But he rallied his nationalist base and turned the campaign into a fight for national security after tensions rose with Pakistan and attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi for being soft on the neighbouring country.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win anywhere between 287 and 306 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha, lower house of parliament, four exit polls showed.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance is likely to secure between 128 and 132 seats.
According to a poll released by Times Now television the NDA is likely to get 306 seats, a clear majority, and the UPA 132.
The channel predicted that the BJP would emerge as the single largest party winning 262 seats.
The BJP, on its own, may fall short of majority by nine seats.
The Congress can improve its tally from 44 in 2014 to 78 in 2019, it predicted.
The NDA is projected to win 287 seats followed by 128 for the UPA, CVoter exit poll showed.
One poll by Neta Newsx, though, forecast Modi’s group falling 30 seats short.
“The massive crowds and response at every rally of Prime Minister Modi were a clear indicator of their approval for his leadership, the performance of the past five years and the vision for the future,” BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli said.
The Congress led by Gandhi, focused on Modi’s failure to deliver on the promises he made to transform the economy and turn India into a manufacturing hub.
Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha dismissed the poll projections, saying that the UPA would defeat the BJP when votes are counted.
“Many of the pollsters, if not all of the pollsters, have got it wrong,” he said, adding that a polarised atmosphere and fear had kept voters from telling pollsters about their actual allegiance.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a bitter opponent of Modi, said the fight was not over.
“I don’t trust exit poll gossip,” she said on Twitter. “I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together.”
Although the BJP is poised to lose seats in northern Uttar Pradesh, which elects the most lawmakers out of all states, the party’s return to power will be on the back of a strong showing in other northern heartland regions and two eastern provinces, CVoter’s polling showed.
In Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is contesting against the Samajawadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance and the Congress, it could win 58 seats along with its alliance partner Apana Dal, Times Now said.
The SP-BSP-RLD alliance may get 20 seats while Congress could finish with just two.
In fiercely-fought battle in West Bengal, the BJP is likely to make a gain of nine seats taking its tally to 11 against two in 2014.
The Trinamool Congress may win 28 seats while Congress may finish with two and the Left Front one.
According to the exit poll, the alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, Hindustani Awam Morcha, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and the Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP) failed to make any major impact in Bihar.
The NDA comprising BJP, Janata Dal-United and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) may win 30 of the 40 seats.
In Maharashtra, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance appears to have failed.
They may get 10 seats while the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance may get 38.
A political party or alliance needs at least 272 seats to get a majority in the parliament.
Results will be announced on May 23.
Exit polls, though, have a mixed record in a country with an electorate of 900mn people.
With the majority of the polls indicating a clear majority for the NDA, Indian equity markets are expected to rally sharply today, while the Indian rupee is also likely to strengthen again the US dollar, according to market insiders.
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