The Republic double exit poll which was announced on Sunday, May 19, projected that the nation was likely to vote the BJP-led NDA to power once again. While Jan Ki Baat projected that the NDA would win 305 seats, CVoter predicted 287 - both implying a majority and a return for Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.
The battle for the 17th Lok Sabha elections was fought hard over several issues between the BJP and the Opposition. Among these issues were those about nationalism - be it debate over the use of the slogan 'Vande Mataram' or the Opposition's hue and cry on the AFSPA law, or it questioning the Balakot Surgical Strike. From the Delhi government not sanctioning the police's chargesheet on the 'Tukde Tukde Gang', Mehbooba Mufti and several in the Opposition repeating Pakistan PM Imran Khan's line for having dialogue between the two states in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack to Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee politicising and adding to the ruckus over the National Register of Citizens in Assam, the fervour of nationalism was challenged repeatedly.
However, the exit polls have reaffirmed that people may not have taken kindly to this.
Less than six months ago, the Congress had won the Rajasthan assembly elections and it appeared that people favoured the party at that time. But the exit polls have shown that the BJP is likely to bounce back in the state.
The CVoter exit poll says the BJP is likely to bag 22 seats while the Jan Ki Baat exit poll says it is likely to win 19-23 seats.
The party's likelihood of a comeback in Rajasthan could be attributed to PM Narendra Modi's stump speeches in the state, especially the ones during the tensions between India and Pakistan. PM Modi spoke about the air strike in Churu in February the morning after the IAF's precision hit across the LoC following the Pulwama terror attack.
"You seem to be in a different mood today," PM Modi said as he began his speech. "I assure you that the nation is in safe hands. I swear I won't let India slow down and bow down," he added.
However, in response, Opposition leaders questioned the forces, especially on the effectiveness of the strikes, with some, like Navjot Singh Sidhu buying Pakistan's line and asking the IAF if they had gone across the border to bomb trees.
The Congress had, in fact, begun insulting the forces long before the strike. Congress leader Sandeep Dixit had shockingly compared Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat to a 'sadak ka gunda'(ruffian on the street), way back in January 2017. Navjot Singh Sidhu had created a huge controversy after hugging General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan's swearing-in as Prime Minister.
After the Balakot strike, however, the Opposition decided to pull out all the stops. Congress leader BK Hariprasad even claimed that the Pulwama terror attack - in which 40 CRPF jawans were martyred - was a 'fixed match' between PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan. Sidhu continued to make incendiary remarks about the Forces.
The voters seemed to have not taken well the frequent attack on its own Forces and have responded to the provocation through the Lok Sabha elections.
Majority of the states in the Northeast show that they are likely to favour the NDA, as per the exit polls. The polls for Assam, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland have projected that the state will vote NDA to power. This is despite the hullabaloo created over the National Register of Citizens in Assam which the Opposition said will alienate the people from the party.
In its manifesto, the Congress party made big statements about how it would dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and undertake a redeployment of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. However, both in India's North-most state and in the North-East, the BJP is projected to perform better than the Congress, indicating that the manifesto promises haven't been as well received as the Rahul Gandhi-led party may have hoped. Furthermore, the PDP, whose chief Mehbooba Mufti has made several shocking remarks which toed Pakistan's line and showed sympathy for separatists, appears to be struggling as per the exit polls.