In a massive fillip for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), major exit polls have put the party in the driving seat in four of the five states where assembly elections were held between February 4 and March 8.
As per the polls, the BJP is set to win Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and retain Goa, while the Congress is tipped to take power in Punjab.
Times Now-VMR exit poll projected 190-210 seats for the BJP in the UP assembly elections, while India News-MRC gave it 185 and ABP-Lokniti CSDS forecast 164-176 seats for the party. If the BJP emerges victor in UP, it would be its return to power in the crucial Hindi heartland state after 15 years.
These three exit polls predicted 110-130, 120 and 156-169 seats respectively for the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and 57-74, 90 and 60-72 seats for the Mayawati-led BSP.
The BJP also seemed to be coasting towards a victory in the neighbouring Congress-ruled Uttarakhand, with India Today-Axis, News 24-Today's Chanakya and India News-MRC exit polls projecting a comfortable majority for the party, giving it 46-53, 53, and 38 seats respectively in the 70-member House with the simple majorty mark of 36. However, India TV-CVoter exit poll made both the BJP and the Congress tied at 29-35 seats each.
Most exit polls predicted a fierce, neck-and-neck fight between the Congress and the AAP in the 117-member Punjab assembly elections. India Today-Axis poll forecast 62-71 seats for the Congress and 42-51 seats for the AAP, but India TV-C Voter gave 59-67 seats for the AAP and 41-49 for the Congress. News X-MRC exit poll gave 55 seats each to the Congress and the AAP while News 24-Today's Chanakya gave 54 each to the two parties.
All the exit polls forecast a total rout for the ruling SAD-BJP combine in Punjab, reducing it to a single digit figure.
In the elections to the 40-member Goa assembly, the incumbent BJP was predicted to have a lead over the Congress, even as the state seemed to be heading for a hung House. India Today projected 18-22 seats for the BJP and 9-13 seats for the Congress. India TV-CVoter forecast 15-21 seats for the BJP and 12-18 for the Congress while News X-MRC gave them 15 and 10 respectively.
The exit polls made conflicting projections for the 60-member assembly elections in Congress-ruled Manipur, with India Today-Axis predicting a Congress victory with 30-36 seats as against the BJP's 16-22 seats while India TV-CVoter gave them 17-23 and 25-31 respectively.
In the NDTV poll of exit polls, the BJP was projected to win UP by bagging 211 seats as against 122 and 61 for the SP-Congress alliance and the BSP respectively. It projected a hung assembly in Goa while giving the BJP 18 seats as against the Congress's 12 there. It also predicted a hung assembly in Manipur, giving 26 seats to the Congress and 24 to the BJP.
The NDTV average poll of various exit polls predicted a cliffhanger between the Congress and the AAP in Punjab with 54 and 52 seats respectively. It however forecast a clear triumph for the BJP in Uttarakhand, giving the party 42 seats as against 24 seats for the Congress.
The assembly elections to these five states, carried out during February-March, are considered to be significant as their results, especially the UP outcome, would have a bearing on the trajectories of national politics and leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi among others, in the near future. The counting of votes in these elections will take place on 11 March.