With elections being held in Telangana and Rajasthan on Friday, the month-long dance of democracy in five states, including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram has come to an end, and the exit polls are now out, projecting some fascinating results.
The most significant question that was being asked when Chhattisgarh was going to polls in two-phased elections was whether the Mayawati-Ajit Jogi alliance could end up playing kingmaker, just as Kumaraswamy and the JD(S) did in Karnataka. And as per the mega poll of polls, it appears that they are in with a shot of doing just that as the BJP and Congress are neck and neck.
Two of the polls are projecting the Congress winning a majority on its own while one projects the same for the BJP whose Raman Singh has been Chief Minister in the state for over a decade. However, the numbers (barring a few cases) are extremely close, and the poll of polls projects that neither party will be able to breach the half-way mark on its own.
Just as in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, the BJP, led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has been in power for since the mid-noughties, and therefore, anti-incumbency was touted as being a major factor in the polls that were held on November 28. However, it wasn't the only one, with the Congress getting embroiled in controversy after controversy, especially over Kamal Nath resolving in a video to target the Muslim vote and Raj Babbar making personal attacks against the Prime Minister. The Congress also suffered from infighting with senior leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh having a heated spat in front of Rahul Gandhi over ticket distribution.
However, the various exit polls aren't able to give a single answer as to who will win the state. Three exit polls give a slight advantage to the Congress in the 230-member assembly, including CVoter which projects a wafer-thin majority, whereas on the other hand, the BJP is pegged to get a majority on its own in the remaining two polls.
Accordingly, the poll of polls projects a hung house, with both parties being neck and neck.
Mizoram, where Lal Thanhawla is the Chief Minister, is among just three states where the Congress is still in power, and also now, the only state in the North-East where the NDA isn't in power.
In the 40-member assembly, as per the various exit polls, the MNF (Mizo National Front - a possible NDA ally) is likely to displace the Congress as the biggest party in the state but fall short of a majority on its own by a handful of seats, opening the door for the ZPM (Zoram People’s Movement) to possibly play kingmaker.
In Rajasthan, where elections were held on Friday for 199 seats, history says that the incumbent, i.e. the BJP and CM Vasundhara Raje, will be voted out of power. On this, all exit polls are unanimous.
The Congress has also projected great confidence that they will be forming a majority government in the state and all the exit polls, apart from Jan Ki Baat, are also unanimous on this, despite the Rahul Gandhi-led party not stating outright whether Sachin Pilot or Ashok Gehlot (or someone else) is its Chief Ministerial candidate.
Finally, in Telangana which also went to polls on Friday, KCR's gambit of dissolving the state assembly and calling for early elections appears to have been a masterstroke, with all the exit polls projecting that his TRS will emerge the biggest party in the state and three polls even predicting that it will win a majority on its own.
In the event that it doesn't and the newly forged Congress-TDP combine wins enough seats to throw up a hung house, the AIMIM could end up playing kingmaker (Asaduddin Owaisi has already spoken of extending support to KCR, though they hadn't officially formed a pre-poll alliance.)