Modi wave, it seems, shows no signs of stopping

Exit polls predict NDA win in Maharashtra, Haryana with even more seats than in 2014

GN Bureau | October 22, 2019


#Narendra Modi   #elections   #Haryana   #Maharashtra   #BJP  
BJP supporters at an election rally in Haryana addressed by prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo courtesty: narendramodi.in)
BJP supporters at an election rally in Haryana addressed by prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo courtesty: narendramodi.in)

The voters’ trust in Brand Modi is not a short-term affair – if anything, it is only increasing, or so it seems going by the numbers exit polls have given after the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections. Predictions from three TV channels differ widely but each has the BJP/NDA in the top position and some see the ruling party gaining more seats than in 2014.

For comparison, BJP and its partner Shiv Sena had won 122 and 63 seats out of the 288 in the Maharashtra assembly, leaving the main opposition Congress plus NCP at 42+41. After Monday’s voting, the Times Now forecasts the BJP/Sena getting 230 seats and News18 IPSOS sees 243 seats. Only the India Today Axis My India poll has a sobering range of 166-194, which too leaves the possibility open that the ruling coalition may improve its tally. The Congress/NCP, on the other hand, are seen totaling only 48, 41 and 72-90 seats in the three exit polls respectively.

In Haryana, in 2014 the BJP won 47 seats out of 90, just enough for a simple majority, while the Congress and INLD managed only 15 and 19 respectively. This time, the BJP could deliver a record-breaking performance, winning between 10 and 80 seats going by various exit polls, which leave the Congress in the range of 9-12 and INLD may score a zero or win only one.

The BJP traditionally has a strong base in these two states, and the assembly elections there were held in 2014 just after the historic Lok Sabha elections. The results were then seen as a lingering aftereffect of the Modi wave. Prime minister Narendra Modi, in his usual counter-intuitive way, had chosen a new face to lead each state: a young Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra and Manohar Lal Khattar as the first non-Jat leader of Haryana. The two have attempted to complement the grand narrative of the central government, and the two have managed to complete the full term as well.

If the exit polls come true, the election verdict would be an unequivocal endorsement of firstly Modi and then the state leadership. It would also show that the government’s official pogrammes and the party’s policies have a widespread resonance with voters.

This should give the party a momentum when entering the poll arena in Delhi later this year and taking on Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party – which had not only stopped the Modi wave but created a record by winning 67 of the 70 seats.

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