Will BJP defy the majoritarian exit poll results in Rajasthan?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he stage is set for the welcoming of new governments in five Indian states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram – where the polling was conducted within a span of four weeks. Assembly election results for all of the said states are scheduled to come out on December 11.

Rajasthan, which has been BJP’s bastion for the past two terms, saw a major change of trend as per the exit polls by different organisations. These surveys have forecasted a tough path for the anti-incumbent saffron party – when it comes to holding their ground in the Desert state.

For Rajasthan, two exit polls have predicted a Congress win – a scenario where Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of the BJP would have to vacate her seat. The India Today-Axis My India predicted a range of 119 to 141 seats for the Congress, good to unseat the BJP’s Vasundhara Raje – whose party was allotted seats ranging between 55-72. The Times Now-CNX survey too predicted a majority for the Congress at 105 seats, with 85 for the BJP.

The Republic Jan Ki Baat poll, however, predicted a close contest with BJP bagging 83-103 seats and the Congress settling for 81-101.

How BJP, Congress fared in 2013

A party needs 100 seats in the 200-member assembly in Rajasthan, where elections were not held on one seat because a candidate died. In 2013, the BJP got 163 seats and a vote share of 46.03%, a jump of about eight % points since 2008. The Congress bagged 21 seats with a vote share of 34.27 per cent, a fall of a meagre two % points.

The BJP had eaten into the votes of smaller parties and independents, whose vote share shrank by eight % points to 20.29 %.

This time the Congress is contesting on 195 seats and has given 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).

Election campaign

Whatever is the outcome of the polls (remember, exit polls are known to go wrong), December 11 will be the culmination of one of the most intensely fought election with high-voltage campaigns led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi energizing the party cadre.

The campaign saw top leaders of both the Congress and the BJP campaigning extensively in the state speaking on issues such as construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, caste of Hindu god Hanuman, caste and family of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, apart from farm and water crisis, jobs, reservation to certain castes, the alleged inaccessibility of chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her cabinet colleagues.

The Congress leaders during their campaign largely harped on local issues such as employment generation, water availability and agrarian crisis. Barring to a section of the urban intelligentsia, the controversies over the purchase of Rafale jet fighters and AgustaWestland helicopters may have made little sense to a vast majority of voters.

On its part, the Congress added a last-minute twist to the poll game by announcing the candidature of former chief minister Ashok Gehlot thereby befuddling the chief minister candidate issue, which the BJP thinks will not go well with the masses.

74.21% voter turnout

The BJP-ruled state went to polls on 7 December, recording a turnout of 74.21 % of the 4.74 crore voters. Here are the highlights from the polling day:

  • 199 out of the 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan went to polls on Friday
  • Polling in Alwar district’s Ramgarh was postponed due to the death of BSP candidate Laxman Singh
  • The 74.21% voter turnout on 7 December was around 1.02% points lesser than the turnout of 75.23% in 2013
  • The polling % of female voters was higher (74.66) as compared to male voters (73.80) on 7 December.