Mamata not conceding, saying exit polls manipulative
One of the surprises in the last phase of elections to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, held yesterday, was perhaps the performance of the ruling National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal, against the formidable All India Trinamool Congress Party, led by the state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foe.
Out of 59 seats contested across the country, nine in West Bengal, including some in the state capital of Kolkata, were up for grabs. Earlier, elections to 33 out of 42 constituencies in the state were held in phases.
Trinamool leaders and supporters were expecting a better result for the party as compared to the 2014 elections when they had won 34 seats in the third largest state of India.
Just after casting her vote in a polling booth in Kolkata, Mamata said her Trinamool party would get all the 42 seats in the state.
But exit polls are not anywhere near her expectation.
Exit polls are showing her party may win as high as 28 seats, which is six less than in 2014.
On the other hand, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, which won only 2 seats in 2014, is predicted to have won a minimum of 11 seats. One outlet is predicting the saffron party is going to win as high as 16 seats, significantly reducing the number of Trinamool lawmakers.
It is worth cautioning that in India, exit polls are not reliable all the time and there were instances in the near past where they got things horribly wrong.
The final results will be available on May 23 when votes will be counted and results will be declared officially.
Trinamool chief Mamata has already cast doubt on the predictions being made by the exit polls, describing them as manipulative.
Whatever the Chief Minister says, nothing can hide the fact that the BJP has done exceedingly well in West Bengal.
According to a few Trinamool activists, they knew that the BJP would do better than in 2014, but this kind of stunning performance by the ruling party was unthinkable for them.
The vote share of the BJP in the state has increased from 17 per cent in 2014 to 32 per cent, about double in percentage terms, according to the projections. Trinamool's share of votes remained at 39 per cent.
The BJP which is alleged by many to be trying to promote Hindu nationalism, has had its eyes on West Bengal for a long time and they have been trying to make inroads in the state bordering Bangladesh. The saffron party was encouraged by its recent successes in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.
And to achieve what they wanted to achieve, the ruling party, prior to and during the beginning of the campaign, gave maximum effort in West Bengal to do well. The frequent visits of Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah to the state, are proof of their desperation to leave a significant mark on the state. And, the party’s effort seems to have paid off.