Will the BJP win Chhattisgarh?

Exit Poll of Chhattisgarh Election 2018

Exit Poll of Chhattisgarh Election 2018

The people of Chhattisgarh voted to elect their representatives to the state’s 90 Assembly seats on November 12 and 20, 2018. The results will be announced on December 11.

So, the big question on everyone’s mind is – will Raman Singh-led BJP retain power or have the people voted for change after electing the incumbent government for three consecutive terms?

Political analysts, Psephologists, journalists, and political watchers are all busy concluding the possible outcomes. Several Exit Polls that have been conducted have published varying conclusions. Let’s look at what the Exit Poll of Polls says about Chhattisgarh.

As per the Exit Poll of all Polls put together, out of a total of 90 seats in contention, INC is likely to get 42 seats, the BJP 41 seats, and BSP 4 seats. It’s a close contest which could go either way.

Total Seats: 90
Majority: 46

The diverse outcomes of individual Exit Polls are:

Media BJP INC BSP Others
ABP CSDS 52 35 0 3
Republic TV – Cvoter 35-43 40-50 3-7 0
India Today Axis 21-31 55-65 4-8 0
India TV – CNX 42-50 32-38 6-8 1-3
Republic Jan Ki Baat 40-48 37-43 5-6 0-1
Times Now – CNX 46 35 7 2
News 24 – Pace 36 50 0 4
NewsX-Neta 43 40 6 1
Maps of India 48 37  0 5

Out of eight different polls conducted, five polls point to the BJP retaining power in Chhattisgarh, with the margin of victory very close in several seats which can swing the outcome either way. Only three polls predict an outright win for the Congress.

The incumbent CM, Raman Singh, popularly known as Chawal Baba, initiated a foodgrain scheme for the poor which was very popular across the state and was one of the major factors in retaining power for three consecutive terms.

The widespread farmer distress across the country has affected the farmers in Chhattisgarh as well, and this is showing up in the close results of the Exit polls. In a primarily agrarian state, farmers formed the largest support base for Raman Singh. Erratic monsoon, demonetization and low agricultural prices (MSP) have all contributed to eroding popularity for the incumbent CM.

It’s not to say he is vastly unpopular. On the contrary, as an individual, he remains the people’s favourite, but his government has lost its sheen in large pockets, especially the poorer ones. Parts of these areas have continued to extend support to the Maoists.

The Congress spotted the opportunity early and had energized its cadres to present the party as a better alternative. Ajit Jogi’s backing out hit the party’s chances and was expected to eat into Congress’ vote share. The close fight seen in the exit polls, however, seems to reflect Ajit Jogi’s CJC impacted the BJP more than the Congress party.

Jogi’s alliance with Mayawati was expected to play spoilsport for both the BJP and the Congress, and he hoped to negotiate gains for his party in exchange for support based on who would emerge as the final winner. The polls reflect Jogi’s gamble hasn’t paid off.

The challenge faced by Raman Singh’s BJP in the 2018 elections must be viewed in the context of results during the 2013 Assembly elections. In 2013, BJP received 5,365,272 votes representing 41% vote share. The Congress got 5,267,698 votes representing 40.3% vote share. The difference in 2013 is extremely narrow for comfort in 2018, given anti-incumbency and negative farmer sentiment working against the BJP this year. The CM will be a worried man going into December 11 when the vote counting begins.

The Congress faced criticism for not naming a CM candidate to take on a well-entrenched Raman Singh and was expected to go against the party. The exit polls seem to show it wasn’t much of a factor, which in turn, highlights people’s focus on economic development and tribal welfare over the CM candidate.

A Congress victory here will enthuse the party going into 2019 and will place the party on a stronger footing to negotiate a workable Mahagathbandhan. BJP will be watching the results unfold on December 11 with bated breath.

Exit Polls of the other states