India: Sharply varying exit poll numbers in key states trigger uncertainty

  • A general consensus appears to have emerged among political parties that the Bharatiya Janata Party will emerge as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha.
  • However, there are wide divergences in seats that exit polls give to the BJP and its main contenders in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha — they have become important because presumed losses in BJP strongholds in the Hindi heartland are expected to be offset by gains there.
  • There is a fourth state where the BJP is not a player but which is poised to play a key role in government formation if the neither the NDA nor UPA gets a clear majority — that is Andhra Pradesh.
  • There is a divergence in seats for the two main players, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), who could play kingmaker in possible government formation.
  • The divergences and the wide band within which the exit poll projections are made suggest that the numbers could favour either side in these states, indicating that they could emerge as the swing states.
  • Consider Uttar Pradesh. Various opinion polls suggest that the tally could be between 33 seats and 65 seats out of 80 for the NDA and between 13 and 43 seats for the Mahagathbandhan comprising the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
  • Similarly, various exit polls have projected between 19 and 38 seats for the Trinamool Congress and between 3 and 22 seats for the BJP out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.
  • The trend of wide divergences in the other three states follows in Andhra Pradesh as well. In the straight contest between the YSRCP and the TDP, the diverges are as follows: pollsters have given between 4 and 17 seats out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state to the TDP and between 8 and 20 seats to the YSRCP.
  • The varying numbers in the exit polls show that NDA’s smooth sail might be difficult.

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