Exit polls announced after Monday’s assembly elections in the BJP-ruled Indian states of Maharashtra and Haryana indicate a second term for the governments headed by Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Lal Khattar respectively.
According to Poll of Polls, BJP-Shiv Sena combine is likely to secure 213 seats in Maharashtra and 66 seats in Haryana while Congress may get only 61 and 13 seats respectively.
Times Now, News18-IPSOS and ABP-C-Voter polls also predicted huge win for BJP.
If the exit polls prove true after votes are counted on Oct 24, the two assembly elections are going to send a clear message that voters in these states still trust BJP and its leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite problems they face such as unemployment, consequences of economic slowdown and drought-related suicides by farmers.
Another message will be that a corruption-free governance matters more for Indian voters than economic distress. They seem to be ready to ignore the failures of a BJP government on the economic front so long as it is sincere in its intentions and efforts.
The poll predictions also point a finger at self-centred and divided opposition parties which failed to present a convincing narrative to voters about the lapses of the Maharashtra and Haryana governments.
If the exit polls hold true, the grand old Congress party, which once ruled Maharashtra for decades, must seriously look for a leader beyond the Gandhi family.
Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul did not take much interest in the election campaigns. Sonia, the acting party president, skipped her lone rally in Haryana’s Mahendragarh.
The exit polls also indicate the possible emergence of a one-party rule by BJP. This is not good for a democracy whose survival depends on a formidable and responsible opposition.
But in an interview to a TV station, Khattar said the strength of an opposition lies not in numbers. Even 25 opposition lawmakers could keep democracy strong.
Responding to the exit polls, critics of BJP told media that Modi, during his election campaigns in the two states, tried to draw majority Hindu votes by highlighting his government’s achievements such as criminalising Triple Talaq, scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and planning a National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the entire country.
But these are serious national issues touching on integration, archaic practices, human rights violation, gender justice and illegal immigration and have nothing to do with appeasement of a section of voters.