Exit polls pre­dict a photo fin­ish

Ra­jasthan called in favour of Congress; C’garh, MP see tight race; TRS ex­pected to bag Te­lan­gana and MNF Mi­zo­ram

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - News - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

NEW DELHI: The elec­toral race is tan­ta­lis­ingly poised in the po­lit­i­cally cru­cial Hindi heart­land states of Mad­hya Pradesh and Ch­hat­tis­garh, where the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are locked in a neck-and-neck con­test, with the lat­ter hav­ing the edge in Ra­jasthan, ac­cord­ing to exit polls pub­lished on Fri­day after the con­clu­sion of vot­ing in the last round of state elec­tions be­fore the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Chief min­is­ter K Chan­drasekhar Rao’s Te­lan­gana Rash­tra Samithi (TRS) has an ad­van­tage in Te­lan­gana in the south, and Zo­ramthanga’s op­po­si­tion Mizo Na­tional Front (MNF) may edge past the Congress in Chris­tian ma­jor­ity Mi­zo­ram, showed the polls pub­lished after vot­ing drew to a close on Fri­day in Te­lan­gana and Ra­jasthan.

Exit polls are con­ducted just after a voter walks out of the polling booth after cast­ing his or her vote. They are aimed at pre­dict­ing the re­sult of an elec­tion on the ba­sis of in­for­ma­tion col­lected from vot­ers. To be sure, re­sults of elec­tions in In­dia can be ex­tremely hard to pre­dict and there have been in­stances where poll­sters have been spec­tacu--

larly off the mark in mak­ing the treach­er­ous con­ver­sion from pro­jected vote share to seat share num­bers.

Assem­bly polls to these five states — billed as the semi-fi­nals ahead of next year’s gen­eral elec­tions — were held in a nearly month-long cy­cle be­gin­ning on Novem­ber 12. The re­sults will be an­nounced after the votes are counted on De­cem­ber 11.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and party pres­i­dent Amit Shah at the van­guard of its cam­paign, is try­ing to win power for a fourth straight term in Mad­hya Pradesh and Ch­hat­tis­garh and try­ing to re­tain Ra­jasthan.

Ra­jasthan has a tra­di­tion of al­ter­nat­ing be­tween the rul­ing party and the main op­po­si­tion, which this time is the Congress.

The Congress, whose cam­paign was spear­headed in all states by party pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi, is hop­ing to ben­e­fit from an anti-in­cum­bency vote in Ra­jasthan against the govern­ment of chief min­is­ter Va­sund­hara Raje.

HY­DER­ABAD: In­dia’s new­est state saw 67.5% turnout in the assem­bly elec­tions by 5pm on Fri­day but the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion in­di­cated the fi­nal turnout fig­ure might go up be­cause all vot­ers in queue at the time of clos­ing of polls were per­mit­ted to ex­er­cise their fran­chise.

The turnout is marginally lower than the 68.5% that was recorded in the Te­lan­gana re­gion in the 2014 elec­tions, which was held to­gether for the erst­while un­di­vided Andhra Pradesh.

Adi­l­abad dis­trict recorded the high­est poll per­cent­age of over 76.5%, the state cap­i­tal of Hy­der­abad recorded a poor turnout at only 50%. “Con­stituency-wise, Narsam­pet in Waran­gal (East) dis­trict recorded the high­est poll per­cent­age of 84%, whereas Yakut­pura in Hy­der­abad recorded the low­est of 45% polling,” Chief Elec­toral Of­fi­cer Ra­jath Ku­mar said. In 13 assem­bly con­stituen­cies iden­ti­fied as sen­si­tive in view of their prox­im­ity to Maoist-af­fected ar­eas at the bor­ders of Ma­ha­rash­tra and Ch­hat­tis­garh, polling closed at 4 pm. Ini­tial fig­ures in­di­cated the turnout in these con­stituen­cies hov­ered around the 65% mark.

“Polling went on peace­fully with­out any law and or­der prob­lem in these con­stituen­cies. We shall take all pre­cau­tions till the Elec­tronic Vot­ing Ma­chines (EVM) and other equip­ment reaches the strong rooms safely,” di­rec­tor gen­eral of po­lice M Ma­hen­der Reddy said.

The elec­tion saw the rul­ing Te­lan­gana Rash­tra Samithi (TRS) take on a Maha Kootami, or grand al­liance, of op­po­si­tion par­ties led by the Congress. TRS pres­i­dent and care­taker chief min­is­ter K Chan­drasekhar Rao ex­pressed con­fi­dence that his party would come back to power with a huge ma­jor­ity. “The mood of the peo­ple is very pos­i­tive to­wards the TRS and we shall win hands down,” KCR said after cast­ing his vote at his na­tive vil­lage in Chin­ta­madaka of Sid­dipet dis­trict in the af­ter­noon.

Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent N Ut­tam Ku­mar Reddy said the Maha Kootami was go­ing to form the next govern­ment in Te­lan­gana. “Ac­cord­ing to the in­puts we have re­ceived, we shall get 80 seats,” he claimed .

Ex­cept spo­radic vi­o­lence, polling pro­ceeded peace­fully. In Aman­gal of Kal­wakurthy con­stituency, some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) work­ers al­legedly pelted stones at Congress can­di­date Vam­sic­hand Reddy. An in­jured Reddy was later shifted to Hy­der­abad for treat­ment.

At Indi­rana­gar po­lice sta­tion, there was a clash be­tween the BJP agent and TRS work­ers after the for­mer al­legedly ob­jected to for­mer min­is­ter and TRS can­di­date from Khairatabad Danam Na­gen­der com­ing to the polling sta­tion wear­ing a pink scarf (pink is the colour TRS uses in its cam­paign ma­te­rial). BJP can­di­date Ra­machan­dra Reddy lodged a com­plaint with the EC and the po­lice against TRS lead­ers.

At Tiru­mala­giri, vot­ers ex­pressed anger at the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer for lock­ing the polling booth in the af­ter­noon for lunch.

Apart from mal­func­tion­ing EVMS that de­layed vot­ing by up to two hours in some sta­tions , there were also com­plaints of miss­ing names of vot­ers.

Ace bad­minton player Jwala Gutta also fumed at the au­thor­i­ties on find­ing that her name was miss­ing in the elec­toral list.

For­mer Maoist ide­o­logue and bal­ladeer Gad­dar voted for the first time in his life.

AP

A man shows his inked fin­ger ■ after vot­ing in Hy­der­abad, Te­lan­gana; 119 con­stituen­cies from the state went to polls.

AP

A polling of­fi­cer puts the in­deli­ble ink mark on the fin­ger of a spe­cially-abled woman voter in Hy­der­abad, on Fri­day.

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