It would be foolhardy to regard exit poll results as sacrosanct in surmising the actual result of elections, but when a whole host of such polls point in one direction, it must set one thinking. Going by the exit poll projections of six major poll prediction agencies, the Gujarat and Himachal assembly elections, which concluded recently, seem to be going BJP’s way. A marginally reduced majority for the BJP is on the cards, but Gujarat continues to be a secure bastion for the BJP as it moves towards a sixth consecutive win.
While the pollsters predict an improved showing for the Congress in Gujarat, there is little to gloat about for it despite the anti-incumbency factor and the entry of Patidar crusader Hardik Patel, Dalit youth leaders Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor in the electoral battle on the side of the Congress. This was also a hugely important election for newly-elevated Congress president Rahul Gandhi who spent weeks intensively campaigning for his party. As it appears, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma is virtually untouched as he leads the BJP onslaught and Amit Shah’s organising skills are to the fore. Contrary to the impression that demonetisation of high currency notes and GST (Goods and Services Tax) would hurt the BJP greatly, they seem to have made only a small adverse impact. The party has done better in the urban areas than in the rural belt.
In Himachal, all exit polls – Times Now VMR, Republic-C Voter, NewsX-CNX, New Nation, Aaj Tak Axis and ABP-CSDS — have projected a landslide win for the BJP with the incumbent Congress government facing a rout. Anti-incumbency and mis-governance are the principal factors identified. The record of exit polls has been a mixed one. The real proof of the pudding would indeed lie in its eating.