Modi wave conquers all: What exit polls show in Haryana, Maharashtra

If the exit polls are correct, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah would have proved a point: the BJP is now the strongest national party, having won (or nearly won) even in two states where it has always played second fiddle, Haryana and Maharashtra.

According to the exit polls, Narendra Modi has again proved his huge popularity in India. Reuters

According to the exit polls, Narendra Modi has again proved his huge popularity in India. Reuters

The exit polls establish Modi as both the BJP's trump card and a potent threat to regional parties in all states where the BJP is today an also-ran. The exit polls prove that the BJP's various bypoll losses post 16 May were more a local reaction and had nothing to do with Modi's fading charisma. If anything, he looms larger than ever.

In 2009, the BJP got all of four seats in Haryana and 46 in Maharashtra as a junior partner of the Shiv Sena. Now, it is predicted to emerge as the single largest party - if not an outright winner - in both states: in Haryana with around 37 seats (eight short of a majority, according to CVoter), and possibly around 127-129 seats in Maharashtra, where the halfway mark is 144. The India Today Cicero exit poll gave the BJP seats in the range of 117-131.

Today's Chanakya, a maverick pollster, gave the BJP a clear majority of 52 seats in Haryana and 151 in Maharashtra.

Clearly, the BJP's erstwhile partners have been left in the dust.

The Sena could be a runner-up in Maharashtra with seats in the 56-77 range, the lower end being CVoter's projection and the upper end Nielsen's. In Haryana, the BJP's estranged partner (HJC of Kuldeep Bishnoi) is nowhere in the picture, with Indian National Lok Dal of Om Prakash Chautala, now a convict and in jail, emerging a close second with possibly 28 seats.

If the 19 October results confirm these trends, it has several implications for Indian politics, in centre and states.

First, the BJP will find it easier to find partners to reach the halfway mark in Maharashtra with a choice of allies, including NCP and smaller parties and independents. This means there is no need, and possibly no chance, of the BJP seeking Sena support for forming a government. The Sena could thus be the BJP's main opposition.

Second, Haryana may give the BJP two options: opting for the stronger INLD or go for a mix of HJC and independents, assuming the party does not get to the halfway mark on its own. The chances are the INLD will be a strong opposition.

Third, the electorate is giving a clear signal that it wants to give stronger mandates and, if it has to make a choice from many parties, it will pick the party with the clearest message and probability of forming a stable government.

Fourth, the electorate is moving beyond basic caste and religion parameters even though caste remains important and cannot be ignored altogether. But class and aspirations are also making an impact. Modi has, in fact, managed to expand the BJP well beyond its old upper caste base in state after state, with Dalits moving towards the party even in state elections (Haryana and Maharashtra).

Fifth, the rise of the BJP as the prime pole in many new states will send a shiver down the spines of the BJP's current and future allies - and state parties in general. While states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are virgin territories for the BJP where no allies will be threatened, in Telangana, Andhra, Punjab and Odisha, the current partners and incumbents will begin to be wary of the BJP.

Sixth, the Congress is now shrinking faster than expected. After the loss of two more states, the Congress now controls only five states - Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal, Uttarakhand and Assam. It will now have to band together with the anti-BJP parties as a regional player rather than a national party.

Modi may find that a newly assertive BJP at both centre and states will have to work harder to win allies to back its legislation. He has taken on everybody and won. Now, he will find that the defeated will try and band together to take him on.

Updated Date: Oct 16, 2014 08:30 AM

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