Thursday, May 14, 2009

EXIT POLLS: UPA AHEAD, BUT JUST

Exit polls results are out. But for the exit poll carried out by GVL Narasimha Rao for the BJP, which puts the NDA ahead of the UPA by 45 seats, and the poll done by the Congress which sees the UPA ahead by 24 seats, all other polls show the UPA just marginally ahead of the NDA.

The result is too close to call. Keeping in mind that there is a 2-3% error in all such polls and a 1% change translates into 20 seats, the exit polls have left no one any wiser about the final outcome compared to the opinion polls that had been carried out earlier. The only thing that stands out again is that the NDA which was far behind the UPA a few moths back has almost caught up with it, making it anybody's game now.

Have a look at the results of various exit polls, including those carried out by the two principal political parties:

Congress:
* UPA 218
* NDA 194
BJP
* UPA 170
* NDA 215
NDTV (Poll results declared after this post had been written)
* UPA 216
* NDA 177
Headlines Today
* UPA 191
* NDA 180
India TV
* UPA 195 to 201
* NDA 185-195
News X
* UPA 199
* NDA 191
UTVi
* UPA 195
* NDA 189
Times Now
* UPA 198
* NDA 183
Star News
* UPA 202
* NDA 198
CNN-IBN
* UPA 185-205
* NDA 165-185

It may be recalled that in 2004, exit polls had predicted a comfortable win for the then ruling NDA. It was projected to get 240-250 seats. But, when the results came out, it got just 179 and lost. The Congress got 145 to the BJP's 138, enabling it to cobble up a post poll alliance called the UPA.

This time, a clear win for the UPA has not been predicted by anyone. It is seen with its nose barely in front by about 10 seats. Political games have already started in Delhi, with both camps hoping to attract additional partners "in national interest", by all means. This is just the scenario that small parties and independents dream of. Some TV channels are already saying that the going rate of an MP is Rs 10 crore. Expect more fun after the results come out, particularly if both the NDA and UPA are roughly of the same size. Expect also the President play the part that she will be expected to by the Congress that thoughtfully placed her in Rashtrapati Bhavan, unless the NDA surges ahead like its opponents had in 2004.

I still feel that Uttar Pradesh will make or mar the UPA and NDA. CNN-IBN says that there is a 5% swing against the BJP in the state and a similar swing in favour of the Congress, with upper caste Hindus deserting the BSP and Muslims the SP for the Congress. If this is proved right, then the UPA will come back to power. But if that swing against the BJP does not materialise and the NDA gets 25 plus seats there, it will push ahead of the UPA. We will have to wait till the 16th to find out.
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