NEW DELHI: If the exit poll predictions are anything to go by, saffron rule is set to continue undisturbed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf Gujarat for the seventh consecutive time. As for Himachal Pradesh, while one exit poll predicted a Congress victory, others tilted towards a close contest between the traditional rivals, with an edge to the BJP. The counting of votes in both states will take place on Thursday, December 8. Elections to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly took place on November 12, while polling in Gujarat was in two phases on December 1 and 5.
In Gujarat, according to the exit poll predictions, the much-hyped entry of the Aam Aadmi Party could end in a whimper. Despite the aggressive campaign unleashed by the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, the pollsters were somewhat reluctant in giving it a major advantage.
However, the exit polls indicated the AAP could apparently inflict more damage on the Congress rather than the BJP. It seems the triangular contest of the BJP-Congress-AAP in Gujarat could have benefited the BJP this time, which had failed to touch three figures during the 2017 Assembly polls.
The Times Now-ETG poll predicted 139 seats for the BJP, 30 to the Congress and 11 to the AAP in Gujarat. The India Today-Axis My India predicted 129-151 to the BJP, 16-30-Congress, 9-21 to the AAP. Republic TV-P-Marq predicted 128-148 to the BJP, 32-42 to the Congress, and 2-10 to the AAP. Newsx-Jan kit Baat projected 117-140 for BJP, 34-51 for Congress, 6-13 for AAP. With 182 Assembly berths in Gujarat, the magic figure to win the elections is 92 seats.
While the majority of pollsters predicted a cliffhanger for Himachal Pradesh, which has 68 seats, the India Today-Axis My India poll predicted a Congress edge with the party bagging between 30-40 seats. As for the BJP, it predicted between 24-34 seats in the hill state. Other channels put the BJP breasting the tape in a close finish. The Times Now-ETG predicted 34-42 for the BJP, 24-32 for the Congress. News X-Jan ki Baat predicted 32-40 for the BJP and 27-34 for the Congress. The Republic TV-P-Marq predicted 34-39 seats for the BJP and 29-33 Assembly seats for the Congress.
While the exit polls indicated that the BJP was set to make a sweeping comeback in Gujarat, the Congress’ electoral downslide continued unabated. While the AAP’s debut in Gujarat might not translate into getting a large chunk of seats, its vote share, however, could possibly be impressive, indicated pollsters. They also predicted that the AAP could record between 10-20 per cent of the vote share in Gujarat.