Manipur Election 2022: Experts, Party Spokespersons Refute Post-Poll Predictions 

Exit polls indicate BJP is going to win the northeastern state with a clear majority for the first time.

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Political experts and party leaders in Manipur are questioning the reliability of the exit polls carried out by various agencies and widely flashed across media platforms as soon as the last round of polling in the five states ended. Most of these post poll surveys are indicating a clean sweep for the BJP in the state. Skeptics point to the fact that such exit polls in the past two assembly elections failed to capture the mood of the voters in the Northeastern state.   

But if the predictions are correct, BJP will form a majority government in the state, unlike the hung government in 2017. The actual results will come on March 10. 

The India Today-Axis My India Exit Poll has predicted 33-34 seats for the BJP at the 60-member assembly, giving it an edge to return to power without the help of any other party. The magic figure to form government is 31. 

It would vindicate BJP’s decision to fight the 2022 polls on its own, unlike in 2017, when the party got into an alliance with National People’s Party and Naga People’s Front. Despite massive outflow of MLAs from BJP over ticket distribution and infighting, N. Biren Singh will then become the CM for the second consecutive term. 

Other exit polls, like India TV-Ground Zero Research Exit Polls, ABP-C Voter Survey, P Marq and India News Jann ki Baat have shown BJP getting 40-60 per cent of the total seats. The numbers vary from 23 to 38. 

However, political experts and leaders of most parties contesting in the elections, are refuting the predictions, based on the track record of exit polls in the state in the past. 

In 2017, the India Today Axis My India survey predicted 16-22 seats for BJP and 30-36 seats to Congress with a 42 per cent vote share, giving the latter a clear majority to form government in the state. However, the results proved otherwise. Congress managed 28 seats, but could not form government. With 21 seats, BJP still formed the government with the help of NPP and NPF. 

Likewise, in 2012, exit polls predicted 24-32 seats for Congress. CNN-IBN-The Week CSDS had predicted 24-32 seats for Congress, while News 24-Today’s Chanakya predicted 25 seats for the party. But in the final result, Congress ended up with 42 seats. 

Talking to Outlook, political expert Dhanabir Laishram, while countering exit polls showing a BJP victory, said, “BJP claims they will have absolute majority with over 40 seats. However, their leader N. Biren Singh has stated his party will get 28 seats in the valley and eight in the hill areas. Together, that’s 36 seats. However, because of the leadership tussle between CM N. Biren Singh and challenger Thongam Biswajit Singh, many strong BJP candidates could end up losing by small margins. Altogether, I don’t expect BJP to win more than 20 seats.” 

All pollsters are giving Congress tallies that vary wildly. Some say it will get no more than 4-8 seats (India Today-Axis My India), others give it a tally as high as 12-26 seats (ABP-C Voter). If exit polls are to be believed, this will be the worst performance by Congress in Manipur. The polls also show a drop in its vote share. 

Likmabam Manibabu Singh, a Congress candidate from Lamsang assembly constituency, who is being said to have put up a tough fight against BJP candidate and sitting MLA Sorokhaibam Rajen Singh, said Congress’s share in assembly seats will be lesser than 2017. He added this was because BJP was intent on winning by hook or crook. 

Talking to Outlook, Likmabam says, “In so far as Congress is concerned, it won’t reach the 31 seats a party needs to form government. We’ll get between 10-15 seats. During polling, BJP did not allow Congress polling agents into many booths. In Lamlai constituency of N. Biren Singh, BJP workers took hold of at least 15 booths and did not allow any Congressmen to come near. There are instances of beating up Congress workers by BJP workers too.” 

When asked how BJP is making deep inroads in Kuki (tribe) dominated seats of Manipur, he says, “Everyone knows BJP has given Rs 15 crore to Kuki insurgent groups, which have signed a Suspension of Operations (SOO) agreement with Government of India. So this time, it’s no surprise BJP will form government. BJP will storm back to power with the help of NPF.” Notably, Kukis traditionally voted for Congress. 

Other parties in the fray—National People’s Party, Naga People’s Front and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United)—are expected to get in total between 5-13 seats.   

Laishram, while predicting that Congress will win 20-25 seats, said since the BJP has not struck an alliance with NPP, Naga People’s Front and JD(U), it has a fair chance of forming government. He said the NPP will win at least 6, and NPF at least 5 seats, while predicting JD(U) to win three seats. 

“Since NPP is not going to support BJP and already has pulled out of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), BJP can’t form government here.” 

Rajkumar Dorendra, the Manipur general secretary of JD(U), also refuted the exit polls. He said his party is confident of winning at least 18 seats. 

Talking to Outlook, Dorendra says, “We had placed 28 candidates in the first phase, of whom, we hope to win at least 13. In the second phase, out of 10 candidates, 5 will definitely make it to the Assembly.” 

The party’s main aim is to establish itself as a state party in Manipur by gaining at least 6 per cent vote share, putting the state unit just behind the Arunachal Pradesh unit, where it got 9.88 per cent votes. As per the ABP-C Voter survey, ‘other’ parties excluding NPP and NPF are going to share 13 per cent of total votes counted. 


Pre-poll surveys had also predicted that BJP would form government in the state where elections are always influenced by money and muscle power.