The exit polls on Monday put BJP leader Narendra Modi on course to be India’s prime minister, with his BJP-led NDA predicted to get past the 272-mark, the simple majority in the 543-member lower house needed to form a government. The Congress was looking at its worst tally, of below 100.
Most polls showed the BJP’s gain in seats rode on a rising vote share, overtaking that of the Congress for the first time. For instance, the CNN-IBN poll put the BJP’s vote share at 34%, up 20 percentage points, against Congress’s 25.5%.
As soon as the voting ended for a staggered 2014 national election on Monday evening, the longest in India’s history, feverish exit polls played out on nearly half-a-dozen TV networks, but forecasts varied greatly.
The Congress was shown to be staring at its worst-ever performance, with pollsters forecasting a tally not even entering triple digits. The grand old party’s worst performance was in 1999, when it managed just 114 seats.
The Congress’ worst performance of 114 seats was in 1999.
Exit polls — or survey of voters as they come out of polling booths to find out whom they voted — have a mixed track record, given the diversity of India’s electorate, with predictions going awry at times. In 2004, pollsters had wrongly predicted an NDA win.
The ABP-AC Nielsen poll gave NDA 281, but TimesNow predicted 249 for the centre-right coalition, while pollster Chanakya foresaw a decisive 340 seats. Another poll, by Cicero for the India Today group, showed the NDA gathering between 261 and 283 seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party, whose chief Arvind Kejriwal electrified the contest by challenging Modi in Varanasi, could bag up to seven seats, according to CNN-IBN/CSDS prediction.
The ABP-Nielsen survey gave AAP, which made a sensational poll debut in Delhi last year, three seats — one in Maharashtra and two in the Capital.
But the ministry again sought the poll panel’s opinion on the matter two weeks ago to make its case watertight.
Though the BJP had earlier moved the EC to prevent the government from announcing the army chief, the party later climbed down from its position with a top leader saying that the party had no problems with appointments where there was little scope for the political executive to use its discretion.
Dalbir Singh, who hails from Bishan village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, will serve as the army chief for two years and five months. A stickler for fitness, Dalbir Singh is known to go for a 10-km run daily and his hobbies include horse-riding and golf.
The Indian Peace Keeping Force operation was one of the defining moments of his 40-year career. His unit was one of the first to be inducted in Sri Lanka in 1987 but suffered more than 20 casualties including the commanding officer and a company commander. Though posted at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun as an instructor at the time, Dalbir Singh volunteered to join his unit in Sri Lanka and was in Jaffna within 24 hours of the tragedy hitting his unit.