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India: Election results today: Here’s what happens if exit polls hold true, and what if they don’t

Thursday 23 May 2019, by siawi3

Source:https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/lok-sabha/india/whatll-india-get-tomorrow-heres-what-if-exit-polls-hold-true-and-what-if-they-dont/articleshow/69444336.cms

ELECTION 2019 NATIONAL
Election results today: Here’s what happens if exit polls hold true, and what if they don’t

Posted On May 23, 2019

So the last has finally come to the last. There are only a few hours to go before the results of India’s long-drawn, eventful, momentous general elections start pouring in.

Counting of votes will be begin at 8 in the morning today. Pollsters have already spoken — but the a projected landslide for the ruling BJP has not exactly settled the nerves of an edgy nation where poll surprises are more a norm than an aberration.

In what was one of the most bitterly fought elections in memory, 542 of the 543 seats are up for grabs today.

What if BJP wins as foretold

Exit polls have predicted BJP+ will win between 267 and 350 seats — with most pollsters projections for Modi well above the 272-seat majority mark.

In case these projections come true, BJP’s sway will likely become absolute. It will provide Modi with the policy space to restart his economic programmes that were left to hang fire in the wake of the elections.

Politically, a win will establish beyond doubt the power of BJP’s election machine. All questions now hang on the party’s fate in Uttar Pradesh, where a win for Modi could permanently rewrite the usual electoral equations that every political party in India banks on.

A significant inroad in Bengal — as predicted by some pollsters — will be even more important as it will show that Modi’s appeal has now reached a level which no regional party can hope to challenge anytime soon.

It will be a reaffirmation of Modi’s enduring appeal and his ability to power BJP to victory in most of India. That is likely to further galvanise the BJP cadre in areas that are still not in the party’s grasp.

Most importantly, in an ominous sign for Modi critics, a win will show that BJP brand of politics has steamrollered other political ideologies in the country.

A strong mandate will enable BJP to go back with redoubled vigour to the reforms and policies that the govt had struggled with during Modi’s first five years. Challenges are quite a few — consumption which accounts for as much as 61% of GDP is sagging, agricultural distress is widespread and new jobs are hardly being generated.

According to some analysts though, this majority could turn out to be a double-edged sword — while voters were willing to forgive policy fumbles during Modi’s first term, there is likely to be more demand and pressure this time to iron out all flaws. The pressure will be on to get it right this time around, says Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

A BJP win as predicted will go a long way in calming down investors who had taken huge chunks of money out of India on fears that Congress could pull off an upset victory. Markets usually favour continuity when it comes to governments, so the general direction of the equity markets in the event of a Modi win is likely to be up.

What if it doesn’t BJP had bagged 282 seats on its own in 2014 — enough to form a government with the first one-party majority in three decades.

Although some allies have left since then, it still had a comfortable majority (339) when the 2019 general elections started.

So, will it be Narendra Modi all the way again, with the exit polls holding true tomorrow? But what if they don’t, given their patently unreliable nature? Can BJP’s domination suddenly be history?

According to the exit polls, Congress is likely to have a shot at power in only highly hypothetical scenarios. But India’s grand old party has shown in various instances in the past that it has a talent for cobbling highly unlikely alliances in the face of serious adversities.

Pollsters forecast the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition to get anywhere between 82 to 132 seats tomorrow.

Analysts seem to have given up on the Congress already, though — most say if the NDA gets 250 seats or more, it will certainly be able to get enough new allies to be able to form the next government.

The party’s 2014 tally was its worst-ever at 44, which eventually reached 66 following a string of alliances over five years. If BJP fails to get the numbers tomorrow, Congress could suddenly find itself in a somewhat favourable situation. Rahul Gandhi has already said on record that he is open to unconditional support to a non-BJP government.

If exit polls are true, it could dent Rahul Gandhi’s stature in a much bigger way than any earlier electoral loss ever had. But if they are not, and Congress is able to bring regional parties on board, it could finally establish him as the leader the party long hoped he would be.

In the unlikely event of Congress racking up the required numbers, the focus will immediately turn to the promises he made in the run-up to the polls — farm loan waiver, his big GST tweak and reserving a third of government jobs for women. There is also a serious question mark on the fiscal viability of his NYAY scheme, which economists say will put an unmanageable strain on the country’s finances.

Many election observers say if the NDA tally falls to 230, it could be difficult for Modi & Shah to cobble together the numbers — a situation that could suddenly see Congress in with a chance.

Exit polls in India have the dubious reputation of being widely off the mark. Pollsters got it wildly wrong in 2004 when they bet on a BJP comeback. Similarly, they had to eat their words in 2009 when they substantially erred on the size of the UPA win. Most exit polls, however, predicted Modi’s 2014 victory correctly.