MUMBAI: BJP chief Amit Shah seems to have a hand on the pulse of the voters. His prediction – that the BJP will win hands down in Maharashtra – seems to be as good as that of 4 out of 6 pollsters who are giving the saffron combine more than 200 seats.
The only difference is in the margin of victory the exit polls have predicted - ranging from 197 seats predicted by TV-9-Marathi and a landslide 243 seats forecast by CNN News18-IPSOS.
An aggregate of the 11 exit polls indicates that the BJP-Shiv Sena combine will end up with 211 seats - slightly lower than the 217 seats they currently hold.
The Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party might muster 64 seats, a shade better than 56 seats they cobbled together last time. Maharashtra has 288 seats and the halfway mark is 144.
If the exit polls are anything to go by – though they have been known to be wrong in the past – Devendra Fadnavis, PM Modi’s handpicked chief minister – is due for a second coming.
The India Today-My Axis poll, however, does not predict a landslide victory for the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, giving it 181 seats. It has given 81 seats to the Congress and its alliance partners and 26 to the smaller parties.
If exit polls hold, this will be the first time that the BJP-Shiv Sena will return to power in consecutive terms; it will also be the third time they are in the saddle.
Fadnavis has already set the record of becoming the first chief minister in Maharashtra to complete a full five-year term in nearly 50 years.
The exit poll by News18-IPSOS has given the BJP a near-majority on its own by predicting a whopping 142 seats for the party and 102 for its ally Shiv Sena. It has given just 41 seats to the Congress and NCP and just 4 seats to others.
The ABP-C Voter has predicted 204 seats for the BJP-Shiv Sena and 69 for the Congress-NCP, while the corresponding figures by Times Now were 230 and 48.
In 2014 the BJP and the Sena had won 122 seats and 63 seats, respectively, followed by 42 and 41 seats for the Congress and the NCP. All four parties had contested independently in the previous assembly polls.