Exit polls show dead heat in Bengal, LDF in Kerala, DMK sweep in Tamil Nadu

Counting of votes for all the four states and that of the Union Territory of Puducherry will be taken up on Sunday.

EXIT POLLS broadcast by various television networks Thursday showed a dead heat race in West Bengal with many pollsters giving the ruling Trinamool Congress an edge, and some giving the BJP an advantage. In Kerala, almost all polls predicted the ruling CPI(M)-led Left front to buck the four decade political trend of the incumbent being voted out of power.

In Tamil Nadu, almost all polls predicted a landslide victory for the DMK-Congress-Left alliance with some predicting a complete rout of the ruling AIADMK. AIADMK went into the Assembly elections for the first time without its stalwart leader late J Jayalalithaa. If the exit polls hold, the DMK alliance, led by M K Stalin (after the death of its patriarch M Karunanidhi), will be returning to power in the state after a decade.

In Assam, the pollsters predicted the ruling BJP to have an edge over the Congress-AIUDF opposition alliance. The BJP had snatched power from the Congress in Assam for the first time in 2016.

The exit polls, if they actually come true, will be a big setback for the Congress as the party is predicted to lose Kerala, which usually alternates between the Congress-led UDF and the CPM-led LDF every five years, and Assam where it had waged a spirited campaign and was hoping to wrest power from the BJP after a five-year gap. The party was leading the electoral battle in these two states with senior leader Rahul Gandhi had focused much attention here.

In Tamil Nadu, Congress was a minor player in the DMK alliance. Many polls predicted it to lose power in Puducherry as well. The AIADMK- BJP-NR Congress alliance seems to be ahead in all the polls. Most polls also predicted a big setback for the Congress-Left alliance in Bengal in the fiercely bipolar contest between the TMC and the BJP.

While the Assam projection is good news for the BJP, the close contest which most pollsters have predicted in Bengal, where it had waged a high-octane campaign, will keep it on tenterhooks till the weekend. The Trinamool Congress too will be on the edge till Sunday. But in a big boost to the BJP, all the polls nevertheless showed the party, which had three seats with a vote share of around 10.16 per cent vote share in the 2016 Assembly elections, crossing the 100 mark.

Counting of votes for all the four states and that of the Union Territory of Puducherry will be taken up on Sunday.

All eyes are certainly on Bengal. While three surveys – Republic-CNX, India News Jan Ki Baat and India TV People’s Pulse – showed the BJP ahead of the Trinamool Congress, polls by Times Now C Voter, ABP News C Voter, News 24-Today’s Chanakya, India Ahead ETG Research and P Marq gave the Trinamool Congress an advantage. The News 24-Today’s Chanakya survey gave the TMC 180 seats.

The India Today-Axis My India poll gave the TMC 130-156 seats and the BJP 134-160 seats, reflecting the close contest. The TMC had won 211 out of the 294 seats in the 2016 elections. With elections in two seats countermanded because of the death of candidates, counting will be on 292 seats.

BJP’s national media in-charge Anil Bhaluni said the exit polls showed that the party “under the leadership of Narendra Modi will regain power in Assam, is all set to form the government in West Bengal and Puducherry and will increase its support and voter base in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.”

In Tamil Nadu, most of the surveys gave the DMK-led alliance over 160 seats. The India Today-Axis My India poll predicted it would win between 175-195 seats out of 234. Most surveys showed that T T V Dinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam and actor-politician Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam will end up in single digits.

In Kerala, two surveys predicted the Left front could cross the 100 mark in the 140 member House. While the India Today-Axis My India poll forecast it to get between 104-120 seats, News 24-Today’s Chanakya survey gave it 102 seats. None of the polls showed the Congress-led UDF to cross the half-way mark of 70.

In Assam, most polls gave the ruling BJP more seats than the Congress-AIUDF-BPF alliance. Most surveys predicted that the BJP would hover around or just cross the half-way mark of 63 in the 126 member House. The India Today-Axis My India poll gave it the maximum numbers as it predicted the BJP to bag between 75 to 85 seats. The Republic-CNX poll too gave it between 74-84 seats.

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