New Delhi: As voting for the second phase of the Gujarat election ended Thursday, a slew of exit polls unanimously predicted a comfortable BJP victory over the Congress. Seven out of eight exit polls showed the BJP getting well over 100 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, way over the 92 seat majority mark.
If these predictions hold true, the BJP would have fallen short of Amit Shah’s famous pledge that the BJP would win 150 seats in the Gujarat Assembly, but enough to easily retain control of the state. The Congress meanwhile, would have made some inroads into Gujarat, but not nearly as much as they would have hoped. The BJP currently holds 120 seats and the Congress 43 seats in the Gujarat Assembly.
According to the Times Now-VMR exit poll, the BJP was predicted to nab 113 seats in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly, while the Congress was predicted to win 66 seats. The ABP-CSDS exit poll predicted the BJP nabbing 117 seats and the Congress 64 seats. According to The Republic-CVoter exit poll, the BJP was predicted to win 115 seats and the Congress 74 seats. The Sahara Samay-CNX exit poll predicted that the BJP would win between 110-120 seats and the Congress 65-75 seats.
The India Today-MYAXIS exit poll predicted that the BJP would get between 99-113 seats and the Congress would fetch between 68-82 seats. The TV9 exit poll predicted that the BJP would win 108 seats and the Congress would win 74 seats. The NewsNation-BARC exit poll predicted BJP nabbing between 109 and the Congress getting between 70 seats. According to Today’s Chankya exit poll, the BJP is predicted to win 135 seats and the Congress 47 seats. According to CNN-News 18, Today’s Chanakya was the only pollster to get the 2014 projection correct.
Overall picture from Gujarat Exit Polls results
|Gujarat Exit Poll||BJP||Congress|
According to the CVoter exit poll, the BJP lost some of the Patidar votes as compared to 2012: 10 percent of Leuva Patidar and 12 percent of Karwa Patidar vote. However, the BJP seemed to have offset these losses by making gains elsewhere. The party increased its vote share with Ahir by 9.9 percent compared to 2012, Rabari by 7.7 percent and Kadariya 8.3 percent. The BJP also improved their vote share with ST Koli community by 9.3 percent as compared to 2012.
The Congress made gains with both Leuva Patidar and Karwa Patidar, gaining 16.5 and 18.9 percent with these groups respectively as compared to 2012 election, according to the CVoter exit poll. The Congress also gained with Patel Kshatriya by 10 percent, but lost 5.4 percent Ahir and ST Bhil community by 8.2 percent compared to the 2012 election.
In the first phase in Gujarat, voting was held on 9 December for the 89 seats of 19 districts of Saurashtra and South Gujarat region, with a total of 977 candidates in the fray. The second phase of voting, conducted on 14 December, saw 851 candidates in the fray for 93 Assembly seats. According to the Election Commission, phase two saw 68.70 percent turnout, which was lower than the turnout in 2012. Counting for the Gujarat polls, along with that of Himachal Pradesh, will be held on 18 December.
A look at how accurate have exit polls been in the past
Exit poll surveys in the past have exhibited mixed accuracy in predicting election results. In the five states that went for Assembly polls last year, the exit poll surveys by most agencies were largely accurate about Assam (BJP), Kerala (Left Democratic Front), Puducherry and West Bengal (Trinamool). However, Tamil Nadu proved to be a hard nut to crack for most agencies as they completely failed to predict the outcome.
Almost all of them had predicted that the DMK-Congress alliance will win the election, however, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK swept the polls in a historic win.
In Uttar Pradesh, while no polling agency was able to successfully gauge the BJP’s seat-count, almost all of them predicted that it would be the single largest party. So it was.
How it works
The surveys conducted by several agencies predict which party is leading the elections on the basis of interviews conducted right after voters cast their ballots. However, these predictions are conducted on a relatively small sample size as compared to the entire electorate, and their accuracy is not a guarantee.
Critics say the projections of these surveys can be influenced by the choice, wording and timing of the questions, and by the nature of the sample drawn. Nonetheless, media houses along with other agencies employ utmost carefulness to get the surveys as close to the actual results as possible.
A fractious build up
On Wednesday, acting on a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Election Commission issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by giving an interview to TV channels even after the campaign for Gujarat polls had formally ended. The Election Commission said, “Explain why action should not be taken against you for violating provisions of MCC, failing which the commission will decide the matter without any further reference to you.” Rahul is supposed to file his reply before 5 pm on 18 December.
Earlier in the day, the Gujarat BJP unit’s legal cell wrote to Election Commission alleging that Rahul’s interview given to a few regional channels was in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The Election Commission norms place a bar on calling for votes after the end of the campaigning phase. The saffron party, which complained against the Congress for the second time, also pointed out that the MCC was already in place at the time the interview was aired, News 18 reported.
Meanwhile, the Congress party rebuffed the allegations of MCC violation and criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “panicked attempts” to “threaten people in the name of Election Commission.”
“The BJP is blatantly using Election Commission of India as a tool for its political gains, which demeans the independent institution,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a hurriedly convened press conference. The party also said that the BJP was making an issue out of non-issues as a distraction tactic.
Surjewala also accused BJP of “threatening journalist” out of its “Rahul Gandhi phobia.” Surjewala said that Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani was trying to suppress local media for reporting on the Congress party. He said that the news channels which aired the Rahul interview were “receiving angry phone calls” fro the Prime Minister’s Office.
“When Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi gave interviews to a few Gujarati news channels, BJP in the name of Election Commission, threatened to jail the journalists of those channels for broadcasting it. We condemn this arrogant behaviour of BJP,” Surjewala said.
On Monday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh hit out at Narendra Modi and said he was spreading “falsehoods” to “score political points.” Singh issued the statement after it was reported that he met a Pakistani envoy at the residence of Mani Shankar Aiyar. Singh, in his statement, denied that any discussion about the Gujarat election took place at the meeting, said that Modi was losing ground in Gujarat and his fear of the imminent loss was evident.
At a rally on Sunday, Modi alleged that the “three-hour secret meeting” was attended by Pakistan’s high commissioner, its former foreign minister,and former vice-president Hamid Ansari, The Times of India reported. According to the report, Modi further charged that the Congress and certain entities in Pakistan may be working together to prevent the BJP from winning the Gujarat election.
The report also quoted Jaitley as saying detractors only had to follow media reports to understand how well the current dispensation had fared in the matter where Modi’s history of responding to terror attacks was concerned.
On Sunday, Modi also attacked the Congress over Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘neech’ comment and his reported recent meeting with Pakistani officials, alleging that Pakistan was interfering in Gujarat Assembly elections. Modi, who was speaking at a rally in Palanpur in Banaskantha, sought an explanation from the Congress over its op party men who met leaders from the neighbouring country.