With most of the exit polls indicating a comfortable win for the BJP and its allies, the Opposition parties are banking on them going wrong and waiting for the counting of votes on May 23. Their representatives are maintaining a vigil outside EVM strongrooms around the country and keeping their hopes afloat.
On the eve of counting day, all eyes are on three key states – Karnataka, West Bengal and Odisha, that have the potential to spring a surprise and influence the results of the Lok Sabha elections.
Though the BJP had won 17 out of 28 seats in Karnataka in 2014 too, the saffron party is likely to increase its tally substantially. If exit polls, and the ground reports are to be believed, the BJP, riding on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may win about half a dozen more seats in the state that is considered as an entry point into deeper south.
The BJP had been aggressively focusing on expanding its footprint in the coastal states of Odisha and West Bengal to make up for any losses that the party may suffer in the Hindi heartland where it had reached its peak. By all accounts, it appears that Amit Shah-led party has managed to make significant inroads in both the states where its presence was negligible in 2014. It had won one seat in Odisha out of the total 21, with Naveen Patnaik’s BJD sweeping with 20. In West Bengal, BJP’s tally was two out of 42 in last elections.
This time around, the BJP is likely to see a big jump in West Bengal, once a Left bastion. With the exit polls giving the BJP a gain of about a dozen seats, the saffron party can see even a bigger surge. In Odisha too, wiping out the Congress as the principal Opposition party, the BJP is hopeful of winning up to 10 seats.
The other surprise for the BJP can come from the states where it is in direct contest with the Congress. These include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Uttarakhand – states where the BJP had swept in last elections. Despite the Assembly election results where Congress won Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP expects to retain these three states. It is also likely to hold on to the other states.
The state that is being keenly watched now by the BJP and Opposition alike is Uttar Pradesh, where SP, BSP and RLD have come together to take on the might of the saffron party. The BJP had crushed the Opposition in 2014 Lok Sabha polls winning 71 out of 80 seats itself and 73 with ally Apna Dal. It had repeated its performance in 2017 Assembly polls, scuttling the caste-based appeal of the BSP, and the SP and Congress that had fought the elections in alliance. However, even if the BJP loses 30 plus seats in UP to the gathbandhan, it might just make up the numbers in the surprise states.