While Narendra Modi and Amit Shah must be excited by the exit poll results that flowed in from 5.30 pm onwards last evening predicting a landslide victory for their party in Uttar Pradesh, but they must be having sleepless nights considering the final results are tomorrow. One cannot bet heavily on the exit poll results as they can go wrong and have gone wrong several times. Remember the major exit poll failure that happened in case of Bihar Assembly elections of 2015. The results of the October-November 2015 Assembly election were hugely awaited just like the results of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are. That was because it was Bihar and because of the ‘grand alliance’ of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Lalu Yadav’s RJD and the Congress, which was to take on the BJP for a majority in the 243-seat Assembly.
The ABP-Nielsen poll said the ‘grand alliance’ would get 130 seats and the BJP and allies would get 108. Times Now along with C-Voter gave 122 seats to Nitish’s ‘grand alliance’ and 111 to the BJP and allies. Chanakya had predicted a big victory for BJP with 155 (7plus/-).
Come counting day the result were not nearly as close as the exit polls predicted. Nitish’s grand alliance won a landslide victory getting 178 seats. The contestants involved know that, “The exit poll surveys may project a different story so they wait till the final verdict that can do a major turnaround also. In the last elections, the JD(U) and BJP entered the fray together and won a massive majority.
Uttar Pradesh is more or less the same scenario with the grand alliance in place of SP and Congress, the most unlikely allies and the pollsters foretell a landslide victory. This time the assembly elections have greater element of unpredictability, especially in Uttar Pradesh where Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress formed an alliance.
A hyper campaign in the state by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself changed earlier perception that SP-Congress alliance would easily secure a majority. In Punjab, there was a neck-and-neck contest between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress. The rebel factor influencing both the Congress and the BJP in Uttarakhand has confounded the political pundits. It is clear that as new alliances form, voting behaviors shift and there is increasing fragmentation of the political system, placing a bigger challenge on forecasting models.