Exit polls hit the mark: Here’s how they fared

From multiple model code of conduct violations to an intense VVPATs and EVM debate, India’s election season has been hectic. However, in a joyous victory for some, predictable victory for others, and solemn victory for many, India’s general election—the largest democratic exercise in the world—came to a close after seven rounds of voting in 542 constituencies. The BJP got a landslide election victory this year, as predicted by nearly every exit poll.

According to the Election Commission (EC), the BJP has won 302 seats and the Congress 51. This is another clean sweep for the BJP that came to power in 2014 in what has since been dubbed the ‘saffron wave’.

Prior to the results being officially declared, BJP President Amit Shah said he was confident the BJP would win over 300 seats and that the NDA would form the government once again.

As quoted by Times of India, Shah said, “After the fifth and sixth phase of elections, it is evident that BJP is going to get majority, and after the seventh phase, it is bound to cross 300 seats.”

In 2014, the ruling party scored 272 seats and became the first party to ever win a simple majority in the Lok Sabha on its own. After the last general election, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had a total 336 seats. The same year, the Congress got the lowest seat share it has ever gotten in election history—44.

Congress’s tally has improved, but not by a large margin.

In anticipation of the results, Indian markets hit record highs. However, the S&P, BSE Sensex, and NSE have dropped since. NDTV reports that the Sensex has fallen 1,473 points after peaking at 40,124, NSE fell 427 points after a high of 12,041.

Did exit polls correctly call Lok Sabha election 2019?

Most exit polls predicted that the NDA government would hover around the 300 mark. These polls are conducted after interviewing voters who have just cast their ballot on which candidate they voted for. Exit polling can be carried out randomly or systematically; however, they are not very reliable.

In one of the most mentioned examples of exit polling gone wrong is the 2015 Delhi assembly election. Most outlets predicted that the AAP would sweep the election with around 35 seats out of 70. It, however, ended up winning an impressive 67 out of 70 instead.

Nonetheless, exit polls this year have been largely accurate. NDTV, Times Now, IANS CVOTER, News18, Republic TV, and India Today-Axis My India predicted that the NDA would get over 300 seats, and they were correct.

However, they overestimated UPA’s gains and predicted that the Left would get at least 100 or more. Only India Today-Axis My India and IANS CVOTER predicted that the UPA would get less than 100.

The NDA is holding strong with 341 seats, while the UPA is around 95.

India Today-Axis My India conducted a thorough state-wise exit poll, as well. The channel predicted landslide wins for the DMK in Tamil Nadu, Congress-led UDF in Kerala, TRS in Telangana, and YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh.

Experts also expected the BJP to lose some seats to the BSP-SP alliance in UP but gain important ground in West Bengal against the TMC.

DMK has won 20 out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, UDF has won 19 of out 20 seats in Kerala, TRS bagged 9 out of 17 in Telangana, and YSRCP won 22 out of 25 in Andhra Pradesh. Hence, even in state-wise polling, India Today-Axis My India proved accurate.

All eyes on high-profile seat fights 

Some close, high-profile races are also ready to be called.

In East Delhi, AAP’s Atishi came in third with 17.44% and Congress’s Arvinder Singh Lovely came second with 24.25%. BJP candidate Gautam Gambhir won the East Delhi seat with 55.33% of the vote.

CPI(M) candidate Kanhaiya Kumar lost to BJP Giriraj Singh in Begusarai constituency, Bihar. Kumar captured only 22.03% of the vote, while Singh got 56.48%.

In UP’s Amethi constituency, Congress president Rahul Gandhi lost to BJP candidate Smriti Irani, who got 50.13% of the votes. However, he won a seat from Kerala in the Wayanad constituency with 64.67% of the vote. CPI’s P P Suneer got 25.14%.

In Rae Bareli, UP, Sonia Gandhi won 55.8% and defeated BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh who got 38.36% of the vote. Sadhvi Pragya, a BJP candidate who is currently on trial for terrorism, won with 61.42%. Her opponent, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, got 35.77%.

In Mumbai North, Congress’s Urmila Matondkar lost to BJP’s Gopal Shetty. Poonam Mahajan from the BJP also bagged Mumbai’s North-central seat with 53.91% of the votes. The rest of Mumbai’s seats went to more BJP candidates, while some went to the Shiv Sena.

World leaders congratulate Modi after win

Modi took to Twitter to thank voters. He tweeted, “Thank you India! The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations. I salute every BJP Karyakarta for their determination, perseverance & hardwork. They went home to home, elaborating on our development agenda.”

Other South Asian heads of state, namely Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena congratulated Modi on his win.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “I congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the success of the Bharatiya Janata Party and allies in the election, and I am optimistic to work with them for peace and development of South Asia in South Asia.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping also wished Modi well in his second term.

Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius

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