How BJP swept Hindi heartland, countered exit-poll projections for MP, Chhattisgarh

PM Modi speaking of BJP victory in assembly polls in Hindi heartland, Dec. 3, 2023. PHOTO: Twitter X @narendramodi

New Delhi [India], December 4 (India-time): As a saffron Tsunami swept the Hindi heartland on the counting day for four states that polled for their assemblies last month, the BJP, with its stunning mandates in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, stumped not just their rivals but also some pollsters who had predicted tight races in these states.

Most exit polls for Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling BJP was facing anti-incumbency of close to two decades, and Chhattisgarh had predicted a close finish and, possibly, a win for the Congress.

However, the BJP, led by its biggest poll mascot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made a mockery of the pollsters and their predictions as they stormed to the hustings in these two states with resounding mandates.

For Rajasthan too, some exit polls had predicted a tight race between the incumbent Congress and the BJP, with the former likely to form the government.
However, the saffron wave swept aside these poll predictions, as the BJP won a clear and decisive mandate in Rajasthan, dashing Congress’ hopes of an incumbent returning to power in the desert state for the first time in its electoral history.

Even as the Congress drew solace from its handsome win in Telangana, a state that was formed when the party was in power at the Center in 2014, the 3-1 scoreline at the end of the counting day served as a clear pointer to the prevailing political headwinds and boosted the BJP hopes of a hat-trick of wins in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

As the counting of votes started on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, early leads in the heartland states set the tone for the BJP as it came out tops in the race for the hustings in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The influence of Prime Minister Modi, who was at the front and centre of the BJP’s campaign in these states, was writ large on the mandates.

The exit-poll projections, which came out on Thursday, at the end of polling for Telangana, threw up mixed results for the five states.

While most gave a clear edge to the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, they predicted the battle to go down to the wire in Congress-ruled Rajasthan.

Some even backed the grand old party, led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, to return to power, defying the decades-old convention of the state not voting back the incumbent.

For Chhattisgarh, too, the pollsters predicted a close fight while putting the ruling Congress in the lead.

In the end, however, the words of former chief minister Raman Singh, who dismissed the exit-poll predictions and said the BJP was on course to return to the state, turned prophetic.

According to India Today-Axis My India prediction, the BJP was said to retain power in Madhya Pradesh, bagging 47 per cent vote share and 140-162 seats.

It said Congress was likely to get 60-90 seats with a 41 per cent vote share. Others were expected to get 12 per cent votes and 0-3 seats.

According to the India TV-CNX poll, BJP was poised to get 48 per cent votes, Congress 38 per cent and others 16 per cent. The poll predicted 140-159 seats for BJP, 70-89 seats for Congress and 0-2 for others.

The Times Now-ETG gave 43.83 per cent vote share to BJP, 42.23 per cent to Congress and 13.94 per cent to others.

However, the BJP made a mockery of these projections as it stormed back in Madhya Pradesh, riding on CM Chouhan’s equations with women voters and his ‘Ladli-Behna’ or the monthly income support scheme for them.

The pollsters, however, got their projections bang on for Telangana as the Congress won a clear mandate in the state as most had predicted.

In Chhattisgarh, three exit polls predicted a clear victory for Congress while others said that the party was in the winning range. The Congress fought the election with Bhupesh Baghel at the helm.

According to ABP C-Voter predictions, Congress was poised to win 41-53 seats in the state, which has a 90-member assembly. The exit poll said BJP is poised to get 36-48 seats and others 0-4 seats.

The India Today-Axis My India poll predicted the Congress getting 40-50 seats, BJP 36-46 seats and others getting 1-5 seats.

The Republic TV exit poll gave Congress 44-52 seats, BJP 34-42 seats and 0-2 polls for others.

India TV-CNX poll predicted 46- 56 seats for Congress, 30-40 seats for BJP and 3-5 for others. The numbers for Congress and BJP in the Jan Ki Baat exit poll were 42-53 and 34-45 respectively and it predicted 0-3 seats for others.

However, at the end of counting for the state on Sunday, the BJP had secured a clear mandate at 54 seats, with the ruling Congress trailing at 35 seats.

Most exit polls on Thursday predicted that the Congress was poised to form a government in Telangana and that the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) would fall short of the majority after its 10-year rule in India’s youngest state.

The Times Now-ETG exit poll gave 38 per cent vote share to BRS, 43 per cent to Congress and 13 per cent to others. It said the ruling party in the state is poised to win 37-45 seats, Congress 60-70 seats, BJP 6-8 and others 5-7 seats.

Republic TV exit poll gave Congress 58-69 seats and the BRS 46-56 seats. It said BJP could win 4 to 9 seats and others 5 to 8 seats. The poll predicted a 41.60 per cent vote share for BRS, 43.30 per cent for Congress, 10.80 per cent for BJP and 4.30 for others.

The India TV-CNX exit poll predicted 63-79 seats for the Congress, 31-47 for the BRS, 0-2 for the BJP and 5-7 for others.

The projections largely held on counting day, as the Congress won 64 seats, the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi 39 seats, the BJP 8 and the AIMIM 7 seats.

In Rajasthan, three exit polls predicted the BJP to be the clear winner while two others claimed that the Congress was ahead in the sweepstakes to form the next government in the state.

The exit poll predictions showed that “others,” including smaller parties and independents, could play a crucial role in the formation of the government when the results are announced on December 3.

However, the vote count on Sunday painted a starkly different picture, with the BJP poised to form the government, winning 115 seats, and the Congress trailing at 69 seats.

The BRS, a regional player harbouring national ambitions, failed to make much of an impression in the only state it ruled.

While the Congress swept Telangana, the BJP made telling electoral inroads, doubling its vote share from 2018 and winning 8 seats.

Significantly, the BJP’s Katipally Venkata Ramana Reddy defeated BRS chief and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and state Congress chief A Revanth Reddy, a frontrunner for the post of CM, in the prestigious Kamareddy constituency.



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