Modi's party to retain power in Gujarat: exit polls

Despite political pundits saying BJP would struggle as a result of PM's federal policies, the party is poised to win easily.

 
New Delhi: 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looked set to retain power for a fourth consecutive term in his home state of Gujarat, according to exit polls.

All exit polls for the Dec. 14 election pointed to the BJP gaining a clear majority in the 182-seat state legislature.

"[The] people of Gujarat have put their faith in BJP and Prime Minister Modi's able leadership," Gaurav Bhatia, a BJP leader told ucanews.com.

The state election was seen as a litmus test for the BJP and rival Congress Party and an indicator of the popularity of Modi’s polices since he became India’s prime minister two years ago.

It was also seen as an indicator of the upcoming general election scheduled to take place in 2019.

The BJP took power in the state in 1995 and has won all elections held there since. Modi assumed the leadership in Gujarat in 2001.

The Dec. 14 poll was also seen as a test of how far the Congress Party had come, especially with Rahul Gandhi set to officially become its new leader. Gandhi was elected president of the party Dec. 11 and is scheduled to take charge officially on Dec. 16.

One exit poll — the Times Now-VMR survey — gave BJP 109 seats and Congress 70, while Republic TV-C-Voter predicted the BJP winning 108 seats, and Congress only 74.

The survey by India Today-Axis MyIndia Poll gave the BJP a clear edge winning 99-113 seats with Congress trailing with between 68-82 seats. A CNN News 18 exit poll saw a greater margin with the BJP winning 125 seats against 57 for the Congress.

The state election also provided an early indication of Gandhi’s capacity to challenge Modi nationally.

Prior to the poll, Gandhi had teamed up with social group leaders and mounted a fierce campaign attacking Modi's uniform tax law and ban on high-value currency, in the hope of toppling the BJP in the western Indian state.

"We do not believe in exit polls, the real results on Dec. 18 could be different," Congress leader Mohan Prakash told ucanew.com. He said a number of exit polls in past elections later proved inaccurate.

Some observers such as Yongendra Yadav, a senior political analyst, earlier suggested a humiliating defeat for the BJP in Guajarat could be on the cards. In a Twitter post, Yadav predicted gains for Congress but said "an even a bigger defeat for the BJP" cannot be ruled out.

During the campaign Modi repeatedly played up an emotive "son of the soil card" calling on voters to back him as a homegrown son of Gujarat.

Asaruddin Sheikh, a Muslim voter in Ahmedabad told ucanews.com that "if the exit polls are accurate, it is another story. But we as voters feel the BJP should have got the message that people are against his anti-people policies like demonetization."

"If the BJP tally falls below 100 in 182 house, it will be huge psychological defeat for Modi," said Sheikh.

Kantibhai Patel, a voter in Ahmedabad, said the Congress campaign went haywire when they started attacking Modi personally.

"Congress claims that there was no progress in Gujarat under BJP and Modi, as Chief Minister, was a failure did not go done well with people. They also tried to project Modi as corrupt, but public opinion did not accept such allegations," he said.

A Christian leader in Rajkot, who requested anonymity, said the exit poll results came as a shock.

"We have noticed a mood among people for a change of government. We are waiting for Dec. 18 for the declaration of result," he said.

Source: UCAN

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