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 (Jalandhar) - - 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.

Ra­jasthan saw 74.05% turnout for the assem­bly elec­tions on Fri­day as spo­radic in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence and some in­ci­dents of mal­func­tion­ing elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines (EVM) marred polling in some ar­eas.

Vot­ing started at 8 am for 199 of 200 seats as elec­tion to the Ram­garh assem­bly seat in Al­war was coun­ter­manded after death of the Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) can­di­date Lax­man Singh. Votes will be counted on De­cem­ber 11.

State chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Anand Ku­mar said the polling per­cent­age recorded till 5 pm was 72.69%, less than the 75.23% per­cent recorded in 2013. He added that the per­cent­age was likely to in­crease as peo­ple al­ready in­side polling sta­tions be­fore 5 pm were al­lowed to vote. He said postal bal­lots and ser­vice votes would also add to the poll per­cent­age.

Stray in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence were re­ported from Al­war, Bharat­pur, Churu, Sikar Bikaner and Jaisalmer dis­tricts. Re­ports of EVM glitches came in from Jaipur Sikar, Kota and Sar­darpura.

Chief min­is­ter Va­sund­hara Raje voted at a so-called pink booth manned by women staff in Jha­lawar while for­mer chief min­is­ter Ashok Gehlot ex­er­cised his fran­chise in Sar­darpura. State Congress pres­i­dent Sachin Pi­lot cast his vote at a polling booth in Jalupura, Jaipur.

Lead­ers of both the par­ties claimed vic­tory after the polling got over. Pi­lot said that the party will sweep the polls and Raje ex­pressed con­fi­dence of win­ning the polls. “Pub­lic has done their job, now big re­spon­si­bil­ity to those who win and other have to in­tro­spect,” Pi­lot said.

“Peo­ple have voted for Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s vi­sion and good gover­nance, na­tional party pres­i­dent Amit Shah’s lead­er­ship and state govern­ment’s de­vel­op­ment,” Raje said.

There were 51,687 polling cen­tres in 199 assem­bly con­stituen­cies. We­b­cast­ing was done from 3,078 crit­i­cal polling booths in Ra­jasthan. A to­tal of 2,274 can­di­dates were seek­ing the votes of 47 mil­lion vot­ers, of which 24.5 mil­lion were men and 22.5 mil­lion women. There were also two mil­lion first-time vot­ers.

The elec­tion in Ra­jasthan is a pri­mar­ily bipo­lar af­fair be­tween the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress con­tested on 195 seats and gave five seats to its al­lies --- two each to Sharad Ya­dav’s Lok­tantrik Janata Dal and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, and one to Sharad Pawar’s Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party (NCP).

The BJP is con­test­ing on its own in all seats. Hanu­man Beni­wal’s Rashtriya Lok­tantrik Party and Bharatya Tribal Party have put can­di­dates in sev­eral seg­ments and may im­pact a few seats in their ar­eas of in­flu­ence.

The cam­paign for 200-mem­ber assem­bly was in­tense with is­sues of farm and wa­ter cri­sis, jobs, reser­va­tion to cer­tain castes com­ing un­der the fo­cus. In 2013, the BJP got 163 seats and vote share of 46.03%, a jump of about eight per­cent­age points since 2008.

The Congress bagged 21 seats with vote share of 34.27%, a fall of two per­cent­age points. The state has never re­turned a party to power in 26 years.

Later in the day, a sealed re­serve EVM was found on Na­tional High­way in Sha­habad in Baran. Dis­trict col­lec­tor SP Singh said that the EVM slipped from a truck. “Two polling of­fi­cers were sus­pended for neg­li­gence.” The EVMs were taken into cus­tody by the po­lice. Re­serve EVM means an un­used EVM.

AP

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

PTI

Gird­har Vyas, who claims to sport the long­est mous­tache in the world, after cast­ing his vote in assem­bly elec­tions, in Bikaner, Ra­jasthan, on Fri­day.

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