With most exit polls predicting a comeback for the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ruling camp is brimming with happiness and the opposition are dubbing the surveys as one-sided.
The India Today-Axis My India poll projects a thumping win for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA); it predicts that the ruling coalition will win 339 to 365 seats.
The Times Now-VMR and News 24 India-Today’s Chanakya exit polls expect seat shares of 306 and 340 (give or take 14 seats), respectively, for the NDA. Other polls also suggest that the NDA is poised to return to power with a majority, or at least has a clear advantage.
In a house with 545 members – two of whom are nominated – a party or coalition with 273 seats has a clear majority. The polls predicted between 242 to 365 for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and between 77 and 164 for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Parties that are unattached to either side, which include the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) whose coalition in Uttar Pradesh is resisting the BJP, could get between 69 and 125 seats, according to various polls.
Praveen Chakravarty, chairperson of the Congress Data Analytics Department, who compared exit polls with actual outcomes posted on Twitter: ‘80% of exit poll seat predictions for all parties in large state elections since 2014 are wrong.’ West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she did not trust exit poll ‘gossip’. “The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all Opposition parties to be united, strong and bold,” she said.
Though exit polls have a long history of going wrong in India, they are generally considered more accurate than opinion polls conducted before actual voting. An election exit poll is a poll among voters conducted immediately after they leave their polling stations. It is conducted by a number of organisations and is considered an indicator to which party might form the next government. Anyhow, the real verdict will be out 23 May.