The BJP will form the next government in both Maharashtra and Haryana, exit polls predicted on Wednesday. The only thing they did not agree on was whether the party would win a clear majority on its own.
If the polls are proved right, it would validate the BJP's bold gamble in going it alone in both states, as well as its focus on a Narendra Modi-centred campaign that dwelt more on governance issues than on the communal rhetoric often associated with the saffron party.
Of the four exit polls that made projections for Maharashtra, one — done by Today's Chanakya — gave the BJP 151 seats or a clear majority in the 288-member assembly. Another, done by AC Nielsen for ABP News, predicted the party would just hit the half-way mark of 144.
The CVoter poll conducted for Times Now gave the BJP 138 seats and the Cicero poll for the India Today group gave it 124. In the latter two, while the BJP would need some support from others it should hardly find that a problem.
Interestingly, the Sena too is not seen as a major loser, at least in terms of seats, from the break-up of the 25-year old alliance with the BJP. All the polls agreed that it would finish second and that it would improve significantly upon its 2009 tally of 44 seats, though the numbers varied from 59 to 77. Three of the four polls put the Congress in third spot, just a little ahead of the NCP while one had it the other way round. The MNS would get fewer than the 13 seats it won in 2009, according to all the polls.
In Haryana, only three polls made predictions and two of them gave the BJP a clear majority, while the third had it hitting the half-way mark. The ABP News poll suggested the BJP would win 54 seats in the 90-member house, Today's Chanakya put the figure at 52 and CVoter at 45. If any of these comes true, the BJP would comfortably form the government in the state.
If these polls are proved right, it would mean a major boost for brand Modi, wiping out any dent made by the earlier by-poll results in several states. It would also send a strong signal to BJP allies that they would be ill-advised to try any hard bargaining with the BJP, as the Sena did.
Such a result would also add to the perception that the Congress is a party currently in free fall and hence add to the pressure on its leadership.