The polls forecast between 277 and 352 seats for the NDA with the BJP getting 227 to 291 seats. Two of them suggested the saffron party may actually cross its 2014 tally of 282. If these are proved correct, it would be the first instance since the Congress in 1980 and 1984 of a single party winning a majority in two successive Lok Sabha polls.
The projected tally for the Congress ranged from 38 to 87 seats. The 38-seat projection would mean the party slipping even further from its all-time low of 44 in 2014, while 87 would mean it nearly doubles its tally and has enough to formally get the title of Leader of the Opposition. That would be small consolation for a party hoping to unseat Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and lead a coalition government in New Delhi.
While the exact number of seats BJP and NDA are likely to win in specific states varied from one poll to the other, the common thread was of the saffron alliance picking up all but a handful of seats in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar, nearly replicating the 2014 outcome in these states.
It was also projected to make major inroads in West Bengal and Odisha – with one poll even suggesting it could win more seats than Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD respectively in these two states, which have traditionally yielded low returns for the BJP.
The only resistance, if the polls are to be believed, is in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab. In UP, the SP-BSP-RLD alliance was projected to win anywhere between 13 and 45 of the state’s 80 seats in the various polls. In TN, the DMK-led UPA was estimated to win a majority of the seats by most pollsters, but even here, NDA may make a bigger dent than was widely expected. In Punjab, a resurgent Congress was projected to increase its tally at the expense not only of the Akalis and BJP but also AAP, which had won four seats last time but could end up with one at best, according to pollsters.
Interestingly, while arithmetic seems to have worked at least to some extent in UP, in Karnataka, the other state in which BJP’s main rivals had tied up to defeat it, the projections are that Congress and JD(S) may actually do worse than in 2014, when they won 11 of the 28 seats. This time round, if the polls prove accurate, they could win at best 9 seats and possibly as few as 4.
For the Left, the unanimous verdict of the exit polls was that it would fail to win any seats in Bengal, a state it had dominated for over three decades. The silver lining was that one poll projected it winning more seats than Congress-led UDF in Kerala.
The projections for Andhra Pradesh, where the buzz going into the polls was that the Jagan Reddy-led YSRCP would dominate the state, varied widely with a couple of polls predicting that TDP would actually win more seats than its arch rival.
Exit polls have a mixed track record in India with some strikingly accurate predictions and some going spectacularly wrong. But with all the polls pointing in the same direction and varying little even in terms of the extent of the trend, BJP would be upbeat about its prospects on Thursday, when the official results are to be announced.