Madhya Pradesh elections: On counting day, exit polls predict edge-of-seat

BHOPAL: Exit polls forMadhya Pradesh electionpredict an edge-of-the-seat thriller on counting day, with the race so close that ‘others’ may end up having a field day.

The MP outcome is all the more significant because it’s considered the saffron heartland. The exit polls give Congress a wafer-thin advantage, and predict enough wins by other parties to perhaps play a crucial role in case there is no clear winner. In 2013, BJP did much better than what exit polls predicted, winning 165 seats and pushing Congress down to 58.

This time, the Times Now-CNX survey gives BJP a clear majority with 126 seats, predicting that CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan will return to power for a fourth time. It says Congress may win 89 seats, 31 more than 2013 assembly elections but well short of the halfway mark. BSP, SP and other parties are expected to share the remaining 15 seats.

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Interestingly, the CSDS survey says Congress may form the government by winning 126 seats, and that BJP could end up with just 94 seats while others will share the remaining 10. According to ‘Jan Ki Baat’ exit poll, the battle between the two leading parties is a lot closer — BJP could barely scrape through with 118 seats, while Congress may be left with the so-near-yet-so-far feeling with 105 seats. The remaining seven seats would go to others. The News 24 PACE poll predicts an even more interesting scenario — Congress emerges as the single largest party with 115 seats, but just one short of the magic figure. It believes BJP will be a close second with 103 seats. If this happens, the ‘12 others’ may play a crucial role in government formation. Axis My India also predicts a split verdict inMadhya Pradesh— giving Congress 113, BJP 111 and others six. NewsX-Neta too predicts a hung assembly in Madhya Pradesh, with Congress falling short of the majority mark by 4 seats. BJP may come a close second with 106 seats and other parties are likely to play the role of kingmakers as they take control of crucial 12 seats, it says.
Reacting to the predictions, BJP said it’s better to wait for the actual results. “The Times Now-CNX survey predicts a clear majority for BJP. We believe it is the most authentic prediction. There are other results, too, showing BJP’s victory but there are variations as well. It’s too early to read a voter’s mind. We are waiting for the final results and are quite hopeful of wining the election,” said BJP state spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.
Congress state spokesperson J P Dhanopia said, “This was predicted much earlier by PCC president Kamal Nath. There is a clear anti-BJP wave in MP and the public has given its mandate. Just wait for the official announcement.”
BSP, on the other hand, dismissed the exit polls and said it will win more than a dozen seats and play kingmaker. “The agencies that conduct these surveys reach out to voters who are affluent and rich through phone. Even if some of them go to villages, they go to areas where there are upper caste or influential OBC voters. They do not reach out to our voters. Exit polls are not the voice of our voters. We will win more than 12 seats this time,” BSP state president Pradip Ahirwar said.