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
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.
A man shows his inked finger ■ after voting in Hyderabad, Telangana; 119 constituencies from the state went to polls.
A polling officer puts the indelible ink mark on the finger of a specially-abled woman voter in Hyderabad, on Friday.