BJP seen los­ing ground in cru­cial state assem­bly polls

Gulf Times - - INDIA -

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s rul­ing party is likely to lose two heart­land states while a third is too close to call, exit polls showed yes­ter­day in the fi­nal test of pop­u­lar­ity be­fore a na­tional elec­tion due by May next year.

Sur­veys broad­cast at the end of vot­ing for five state as­sem­blies showed the rul­ing Hindu na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trail­ing be­hind the ri­val Congress party in some ar­eas.

The ac­tual votes will be counted on Tues­day, and exit polls have been wrong in the past, partly be­cause of the sheer scale of In­dian elec­tions in­volv­ing mil­lions of votes.

Still, nearly all the polls showed that the Congress - led by Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi fam­ily - will win a clear ma­jor­ity in west­ern Ra­jasthan state and scrape through in east­ern Ch­hat­tis­garh, ac­cord­ing a sur­vey of sur­veys pulled to­gether by NDTV.

In Mad­hya Pradesh, the same polls sug­gested the BJP and the Congress were locked in a fight down to the wire.

The com­bined sur­veys showed the BJP win­ning 110 seats, the Congress 108, and smaller groups 12 in the 230-mem­ber house. To rule, a party re­quires 116 seats.

The three states are part of the north­ern Hindi belt, a bas­tion of the rul­ing Hindu na­tion­al­ists.

“The BJP is strug­gling ev­ery­where, for all its bravado,” said Juhi Singh, a spokesman of the re­gional Sa­ma­jwadi Party.

Modi, who came to power with a sweep­ing ma­jor­ity in 2014, has been praised for im­prov­ing gov­er­nance and cut­ting some red tape, but has been crit­i­cised for fail­ing to cre­ate enough jobs for the thou­sands of young peo­ple en­ter­ing the jobs mar­ket ev­ery month.

He has also faced crit­i­cism for al­low­ing hard­lin­ers in his party to un­der­mine In­dia’s sec­u­lar foun­da­tions.

For­eign in­vestors who largely re­main bullish on In­dia’s longterm prospects, are watch­ing the state polls closely for clues to the na­tional vote.

“The re­sult would be con­sis­tent with what most polls are show­ing: that we are head­ing for hung par­lia­ment,” said Jan Dehn, head of re­search at emerg­ing mar­kets fund man­ager Ash­more.

“The mar­ket may dis­count the re­sults a lit­tle bit given these are state elec­tions and there are of­ten protest votes.”

But a di­vided par­lia­ment would make it dif­fi­cult for the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment to carry out re­forms in the bank­ing sec­tor and other ar­eas, he said.

Exit polls yes­ter­day pre­dicted a Congress vic­tory in Ra­jasthan and Chat­tis­garh state Assem­bly elec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the exit polls, the Congress vic­tory in Ra­jasthan rep­re­sents a trend in the state that has not re-elected the party in power for a se­cond term in the last 20 years.

In the 200-seat Ra­jasthan Assem­bly, the In­dia To­dayAxis My In­dia sur­vey pre­dicted that the Congress was set to sweep the polls, win­ning be­tween 119 and 141 seats with a vote share of 42%.

The sur­vey pre­dicted that the BJP may get 55-72 seats with a 37% vote share.

The Repub­lic TV-CVoter pre­dicted that the Congress would get 81-101 seats and the BJP 83103 seats.

An­other sur­vey by The Times Now-CNX pre­dicted that the Congress was likely to win 105 seats and the BJP 85 seats. Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, the BSP may get seven seats while two may go to “Oth­ers”.

A sur­vey by News24 gave the Congress a clear ma­jor­ity (110120 seats) while the BJP was likely to win 70-80 seats.

Over­all 72.65% vot­ing was recorded in Ra­jasthan when polling in the Assem­bly elec­tions came to a close yes­ter­day. The elec­tions were largely peace­ful bar­ring a few spo­radic in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence.

Mean­while, in Ch­hat­tis­garh the Congress is likely to get enough seats to form a gov­ern­ment af­ter spend­ing 15 years in the op­po­si­tion, a ma­jor­ity of exit polls pre­dicted yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to In­dia To­day-Axis My In­dia, the Congress would bag 55-65 seats in the 90-mem­ber Assem­bly while the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) share would re­duce to 21-31 seats.

Repub­lic-C-Vot­ers also pre­dicted a vic­tory for Congress on 40-50 seats and said the BJP would win 35-43 seats.

Ra­jasthan Congress pres­i­dent Sachin Pi­lot shows his inked fin­ger af­ter cast­ing his vote for the state assem­bly elec­tions, in Jaipur, yes­ter­day.

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