All eyes are on the five states – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Telangana and Rajasthan – which went to polls between November 12 and 7 December.
While Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Telangana and Rajasthan had single-phase polling, the Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh went to polls in two phases.
Most of the exit polls have given the Congress an edge in four states, and predicted loss for it in Mizoram, the last bastion of the grand old party in the Northeast.
The Congress has had great hopes from these elections and its president Rahul Gandhi hopes his party will wrest a few states from the BJP this time around.
Chhattisgarh went to polls in two phases – the first phase on November 12 and the second on November 20.
There are 90 seats in the assembly of which 10 are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and 29 for Scheduled Tribes (ST).
There were a total of 1,85,45,819 voters of a total population of 2,55,45,198 (as per Census 2011). A total of 190 candidates contested in the first phase of the elections and 1,101 saw their fates decided in the second phase.
While Chief Minister Raman Singh is aiming for a fourth successive term in the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, the Congress is trying to return to power in the state after 15 years. On the other hand, former Congress leader and the state’s first chief minister, Ajit Jogi, has set up a three-way clash, with his Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) entering the battlefield backed by Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) as allies.
Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, is looking to extend his 15-year-long reign by another 5 and most of the exit polls suggested that he just might be able to do that.
Madhya Pradesh went to polls on November 28.
Altogether 74.61 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, a rise of around two per cent compared to the previous polls.
There were 2,907 candidates in the fray. The BJP had fielded candidates in all 230 seats, while the Congress contested in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
The state has 5.04 crore eligible voters, including 2,63,01,300 males, 2,41,30,390 females and 1,389 third gender voters. Altogether 3,00,782 government employees were on poll duty and 65,341 polling stations were set up for polling.
Stakes are high for the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan led BJP as the Congress is going all out to wrest power from the saffron party, which has been ruling the state for 15 years.
In the last assembly elections, of the total 230 seats, the BJP had won 165 seats, Congress 58, BSP four and independents three.
In the 230-seat assembly in Madhya Pradesh, the exit polls have predicted a victory for the Congress over the BJP, which has been holding the state since 2003.
Mizoram, the last bastion of the Congress in northeast India that went to vote on 28 November, may be a playground for power-hungry politicians, as the prediction indicates a hung Assembly, where the ruling Congress may find it difficult to earn again the needed number of seats in the 40-member State Legislative Assembly.
On the other hand, the main opposition party, Mizo National Front (MNF), which failed in the last two Assembly polls (2008 and 2013), is expecting a comeback this time. The third important entry may emerge in the form of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which aims to win a few seats with the help of minority (read non- Mizo) votes. The saffron party thus expects to play the role of kingmaker in the formation of government at Aizawl.
The state has over 7,70,000 voters out of which 3,94,897 are women.
According to the State chief electoral officer Ashish Kundra, over 6,280 Bru refugees participated in the exercise. They had altogether 11,987 registered voters presently taking shelter in six relief camps of bordering Tripura.
Exit polls predicted a hung house with the Mizo National Front (MNF) beating the Congress by a slim margin, but could fall short of the majority mark of 21 in the 40-member Mizoram assembly.
Mizoram is the only state in the northeast which is not ruled by either the BJP or any of its NDA allies but if the exit polls are an indication, the state might become one.
Rajasthan went to polls for 199 Assembly seats out of the 200 on December 7, a key state which the BJP is fighting to retain.
In Rajasthan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (Jhalrapatan), Congress state president Sachin Pilot (Tonk), former chief minister Ashok Gehlot (Sardarpura) were among the 2,274 candidates in the fray.
The election in Ramgarh constituency of Alwar district was put off following the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Laxman Singh.
Raje, who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, is fighting against veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh in Jhalrapatan, the constituency she has represented since 2003.
This was the maiden assembly election for Sachin Pilot, a two-time MP who is seen as a chief ministerial possibility if the Congress wins. He has represented Dausa and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituencies in the past.
Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who is also seen as a chief ministerial candidate for the Congress, contested from Sardarpura, a constituency he now represents.
All major exit polls predicted a comfortable majority over the requisite 101 seats for Sachin Pilot-led Congress in the state.
Telangana went to polls to the 119 Assembly constituencies on December 7.
Over 2.8 crore voters, nearly half of them women, were eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the political fortunes of 1,821 candidates including Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his 14 cabinet colleagues.
Over 50,000 security personnel including 18,860 drafted from neighbouring states and central forces were deployed as part of the massive security arrangements.
Over 1.50 lakh polling personnel were on duty to conduct the polling process. As many as 55,329 EVMs and 39,763 control units were arranged for the polling.
For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) were installed across the state.
The elections are expected to be a close contest between ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is contesting all seats on its own, and the opposition Congress-led People’s Front.
The opposition alliance also includes Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS). The BJP, which is contesting all seats on its own, is the third key force in some constituencies.
The Bahujan Left Front (BLD) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are also contesting majority of the seats.
TRS had opted for dissolution of Assembly in September, eight months before its term was to end.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao is likely to win the first full-fledged election in the state with the Telanagana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) scoring high on all major exit polls.