MODI 2.0?

Exit polls predict Narendra Modi will cruise back to power in India

Eager to know.
Eager to know.
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A bunch of exit polls, which began trickling in after the final phase of India’s national election concluded yesterday (May 19), suggests the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is poised to comfortably return to power.

Almost all major pollsters predicted that the ruling alliance, led by the prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will cruise past the half-way mark of 272 seats. Even the most conservative estimate, by CVoter, pegged NDA’s tally at 287 seats, while Today’s Chanakya predicted 350 of the 542 seats going to the alliance.

The Indian National Congress, which even deployed the Nehru family scion Priyanka Gandhi, may not see its fortunes revive.

In the 2014 elections, the NDA had swept to power with 336 seats, while the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had to settle for 66.

This victory comes despite the saffron party’s weakening hold over Uttar Pradesh (UP), the state which sends the most number of members (80) to India’s Lok Sabha, or the lower house of parliament. In 2014, the NDA had scooped up 71 of these seats.

This year, the best-case scenario for the NDA is the 65 seats predicted by Today’s Chankya. This can fall to as low as 38 seats, based on CVoter’s sampling.

The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), known to be traditional arch rivals in UP, joined hands against the BJP this year.

The NDA’s lower tally in UP may be offset by gains in the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, where it had won just one and two seats, respectively, in 2014.

The only solace to the Congress may come from the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which bucked the national trend in the last general election, too.

A pinch of salt

In India, exit polls have often been off the mark but financial markets, among others, have rarely showed the patience to await the official results.

In 2014, most exit polls accurately predicted that the NDA had an upper hand over the UPA, but few foresaw that the BJP alone would get an absolute majority. In 2009, the UPA ended up getting more seats than forecast by polls.

In 2004, all exit polls had predicted a win for the NDA, but the Congress-led alliance’s triumph surprised the pollsters.

Read Quartz’s coverage of the 2019 Indian general election here.