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Exit polls: Assam to BJP, Bengal to Mamata, TN can go either way

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

Exit polls can be tricky business. This was made clear most recently, and spectacularly, when nearly every pollster got the Bihar assembly election result wrong. Not that they had fared much better previously. Indeed, they have proved so unreliable that several political parties have, on multiple occasions, wanted them banned.

And yet, spokespersons of every party in the fray hop from one TV channel to another, brandishing the exit polls to gloat over the impending victory, or play down the expected loss, as the case may be. It has become an essential election time ritual.

The proliferation of 24x7 news channels over the past decade or so has spurred the demand for pollsters, which has further muddied the waters.

Per the script, today's exit polls for the just-concluded five state elections, conducted by various agencies for various channels, varied greatly; some reached diametrically opposite conclusions.

Per the script, anchors and psephologists had a field day in TV studios, each seeking to claim a better understanding of a particular state's politics than the other. They each had their own "true picture" of the results, and each held his "truth" to be truer than the competitors'. In the end, this theatre of the absurd left the viewer none the wiser. If anything, she was more confused.

In any case, here's what they predicted for each of the five states. Try making sense of it all.


Seats: 126

The exit polls were largely in sync with the ground reports: the BJP was set to wrest power from the Congress. It is no secret that the party has cynically played the Hindutva card to make significant inroads into the communally sensitive Northeastern state.

  • Axis-India Today exit poll gave the BJP an overwhelming majority with 94 seats.
  • CVoter predicted a hung assembly, giving 57 seats to the BJP. In this case, perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal of the AIUDF is to be the king maker.
  • ABP Ananda and Chanakya gave the BJP 81 and 90 seats, respectively.
  • As for the Congress, CVoter gave it 41 seats. ABP Ananda, Chanakya and Axis-India Today predicted 33, 27 and 43 seats, respectively.

West Bengal

Seats: 294

Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress was predicted to return to power, despite anti-incumbency and a tie-up between the CPM and the Congress. Where the polls differed was over the margin of victory.

  • News Nation predicted a close fight with both the Trinamool and the Left-Congress combine getting 136 seats each.
  • ABP Ananda gave 178 seats to the ruling party and only 110 to the opposition alliance.
  • Chanakya predicted a Trinamool sweep with 210 seats, leaving 70 for Left-Congress and 14 for the BJP.


Seats: 140

Here, the predictions were fairly consistent across exit polls, suggesting that the now traditional five-year change of guard would continue, with the Left Democratic Front displacing the Congress-led United Democratic Front from power. One poll did, however, suggest a hung assembly.

  • Axis-India Today and Times Now-CVoter gave the Left Front 94 and 78 seats, respectively, and UDF 43 and 58.
  • The BJP was set to get two seats as per both Axis-India Today and Times Now-Cvoter, but none according to News Nation. The former prediction was consistent with the saffron party's decent show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when it had won 10.33% vote in the state.

Tamil Nadu

Seats: 234

That close to 40 million people voted was expected to have cleared the way for J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK to win a second term. Not all exit polls agreed, though.

  • NewsX, Axis-India Today and News Nation predicted a sweep for the DMK-Congress combine, with 140, 132 and 116 seats, respectively.
  • Times Now-Cvoter gave 139 seats to the AIADMK and only 78 to the DMK-Congress.
  • The BJP is not expected to even open its account.

What made this election in Tamil Nadu especially interestingly, and that much harder to call, was that it was the state's first multi-party contest, with the third front led by Captain Vijaykanth challenging the two traditional heavyweights. In another first, the AIADMK contested all 234 seats.


Seats: 30

Don't expect any surprises - that was the verdict of most exit polls. In other words, the DMK-led alliance would oust the All India NR Congress.

  • According to Axis-India Today, the DMK-led alliance would win 15-21 seats, the ruling AINRC 8-12 seats, and AIADMK a seat to four.

First published: 17 May 2016, 12:37 IST