Narendra Modi will score an emphatic win for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with 336 seats, securing a second five-year term, after a gruelling and staggered election that lasted more than five weeks according to a comprehensive News18-Ipsos exit poll on Sunday .
The Modi landslide will see BJP alone crossing the half-way mark, hinting at a new dawn in Indian politics where nationalism trumps caste divide and localised issues. It would also be the first time that a party other than the Indian National Congress is being returned to power with a majority of its own.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the principal opposition alliance led by the Indian National Congress, will find its ambitions limited to a dismal 82.
With Prime Minister Modi leading from the front, the NDA is likely to sweep the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkhand and improve its tally in Karnataka and Maharashtra. In Uttar Pradesh, where it is locked in a bitter battle with the SP-BSP Mahagadbandhan, BJP could end up losing a few seats but that would be offset by significant gains in Odisha and West Bengal, the survey predicts.
The survey shows BJP winning 276 seats – 6 seats less than 2014 – followed by Congress, TMC and DMK.
The exit poll hints at a political picture that would stun every poll pundit. Not only has BJP/NDA managed to hold on to the all-time best they have scored in many Hindi hinterland states, they have also managed to break new ground in states like Bengal and Odisha besides registering a stellar performance in the North-East.
The mandate, should the exit poll predictions come true, would strengthen the hands of the PM allowing him to shape his new government the way he chooses without any support from outside. The bitterly fought elections had everyone hanging to the edge of their seats and the consensus among non-NDA parties was that even if Modi has an edge he might have to enlist new political parties to attain simple majority and form a government. The rationale: NDA had hit a peak in 2014 and it could only gone down from there.
Modi, it seems, has now turned that wisdom on its head.
The News18-Ipsos poll also foresees dark times ahead for the Congress party. Congress would be able to only marginally improve its current tally of 44 – its lowest in history – to 46, potentially relegating the grand old party to the fringes of national politics. The Congress wins could largely be limited to Punjab and Kerala (where its tally could actually go down despite Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad), while its campaign in states like UP seem to have only helped NDA gain by splitting Opposition votes.
A stronger Modi would be able to follow through on his message of continuity undertaking crucial reforms that were left incomplete during NDA 2. Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will complete two years of roll out on July 1, will likely see a stronger push towards simplification. The BJP in its manifesto has talked about simplification of GST, given the small and medium enterprises have had to put up with multiple rate changes, teething return filing problems and cumbersome procedures. Banking reforms – a much-pending step highlighted time and again by the controversies surrounding fugitive economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi – could finally see some movement while his pet projects like easy loans to the small and medium sector would gather speed.
The PM had highlighted his strong stand vis-à-vis Pakistan throughout this campaign, and one can expect more stern steps in containing cross-border terror.
Ipsos is the world’s top international pollster that boasts a solid track record of predicting the electoral outcomes of several elections around the world with accuracy.
The News18-Ipsos exit poll was conducted through all the seven phases of Lok Sabha elections by Ipsos, world’s top international pollster that boasts a solid track record of predicting the electoral outcomes of several elections around the world with accuracy.
The News18-Ipsos survey, one of the most comprehensive exit polls undertaken in Indian electoral history, was conducted among 1,21,542 voters from 199 parliamentary constituencies. Within the parliamentary constituencies, 796 assembly constituencies were selected, and then 4776 individual polling station areas were selected for conducting interviews. In each polling station, around 25 voters were randomly selected depending on the terrain and voter turnouts in that particular polling station.
The survey was conducted on the election day in all seven phases of the polling. The interviewing process started when the polls opened and continued throughout the day until polls closed to ensure better representation of the voters, coming in at different time cluster for voting. Each polling booth was covered for one hour, by three interviewers. They then moved to next polling booth. All interviews were conducted using Computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) devices.
India's parliament has a total of 545 seats, out of which the BJP won 282 in the previous general election in 2014 to secure a single-party majority for the first time in around three decades.
Indians voted in the seventh and final phase of national elections Sunday, wrapping up a roughly six-week-long punishing and bitterly-fought election campaign that often turned ugly with politicians hurling personal insults at each other.
To rule a party needs the support of 272 MPs. Counting of votes is scheduled for May 23.
The last round of election includes 59 constituencies in eight states. Up for grabs were 13 seats in Punjab and an equal number in Uttar Pradesh, eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, four in Himachal Pradesh and three in Jharkhand and Chandigarh.
Voter turnout in the first six rounds was approximately 66 percent, the Election Commission said compared to the 58 percent in the last general elections in 2014.
Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in Parliament with 543 seats. The BJP may need some regional parties as allies to stay in power, those surveys showed.
The BJP dominated most of the campaign and Modi set the agenda. His decision to bomb a purported militant training camp in Pakistan, soon after a suicide attack in the disputed Kashmir region killed 40 policemen, boosted his support.
The opposition lacked a strong counter punch but still appeared to tighten, especially towards the end. Congress and other regional parties sense an opportunity to oust Modi.
With inputs from agencies.