Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
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One of the most common errors in political analysis is to conflate one’s hopes with one’s expectations. So we normally find critics of the BJP’s politics saying that it will lose this election and vice versa. That is why many friends believed a WhatsApp message that was circulating on Saturday. This was a fake forecast of the 2019 Lok Sabha election results in my name with a precise, state-by-state break-up. (In case you are curious, the fake forecast gave 146 seats to the BJP and 137 to the Congress). So, I thought I must make my assessment public before the exit polls arrive this evening.

I am not involved with election forecasting any more. But I did write a detailed analysis of election prospects six months ago saying the BJP could lose up to 100 seats. After Balakot, I mentioned a possible shift, and then noted that the NDA enjoyed a definite edge just before the first phase of polling.


Also read: Here’s what psephologist Sanjay Kumar predicts exit polls will say today


The first table here states the overall conclusion: all the ‘likely’ scenarios point to a second term for Narendra Modi. It could happen one of the three ways: the most likely scenario is that the NDA (but not the BJP) crosses 272 mark; but we cannot rule out the BJP securing majority on its own, or the NDA falling a little short and adding new partners like the TRS, the YSRC or even the BJD. The other two scenarios (Nitin Gadkari-led BJP government or a mahagathbandhan govt) look unlikely now.

Graphic by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

The second graphic offers a simple way to assess the BJP’s tally. Six months ago, I suggested that the BJP’s small gains in the East (northeast, West Bengal, Odisha) could be wiped out in the South and the West. But now, we need to rethink the equation: Can the BJP’s gains in the East compensate for its losses in the rest of the country, except for Uttar Pradesh? If that happens then the BJP’s losses in UP would be its net national loss (Scenario 1). If the losses in the rest of the country are much more, then the NDA may fall short of majority (Scenario 3). We cannot rule out the third possibility that the BJP’s gains in the East can more or less make up for all its losses, including in UP, thus leaving the BJP with a majority (Scenario 2).

Graphic by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

Statutory warning: all these are just my estimates and are not based on any exit poll or post-poll survey. Let us wait for exit polls to refine this picture.

Graphic by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

Exit poll reading

  • So far all the polls have confirmed the general impression that Modi is coming back to power. A majority of polls indicate a majority for NDA, not for the BJP (scenario 1 in my analysis). But don’t jump to any conclusion yet. Also, remember that exit polls tend to under estimate the winner. So, we cannot rule out a clear majority for the BJP (scenario 2 in my analysis). Other scenarios can be ruled out.
  • India Today-Axis My India has conducted the survey in each parliamentary seat, perhaps a first in Indian elections. Their state-wise picture is worth a close look as it suggests near sweeps in each state. The DMK+ in Tamil Nadu, the UDF in Kerala, the TRS in Telangana and the YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh. The most significant trend is from Karnataka where the BJP appears to have overcome the challenge from the Congress-JDS alliance. It suggests an overall positive swing for the BJP.
  • On Bengal: Most polls confirm the conventional wisdom that the BJP would win 10-14 seats, but I would not take the Axis My India forecast of 19-23 seats lightly. When a party experiences a surge in a new state, as the BJP has in West Bengal, it is very difficult for polls to estimate its extent. So, I would still wait for 23 May and be ready for a surprise.
  • Odisha: A similar story as in West Bengal. We can confirm that the BJP has had a breakthrough, but difficult to say by how much. Most exit polls keep the BJP around half the seats. But India Today Axis My India is again an outlier, with a projection of 15-19 seats for the BJP out of 21 seats. Polls in this state face the additional difficulty of measuring Lok Sabha and assembly vote at the same time. So, I would not discount the outlier and still wait for 23 May to get the exact picture.
  • Uttar Pradesh: UP is still a bit confusing. We have the entire range of exit polls giving the BJP from 22 to 68 seats out of 80 seats in the state. On balance, the polls are leaning in favour of the BJP. This would surprise all political observers and field reporters in the state. At least this much is clear: the SP-BSP coalition has failed to smash the BJP as it should have done, based on the parties’ past strength. What remains to be seen on 23 May is whether the BJP equals the SP-BSP or overwhelms the alliance. This is another state that will be keenly watched.

    The author is the National President of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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19 Comments Share Your Views

19 COMMENTS

  1. You are correct in diagnosis of the first stage of cancer to Indian democracy but not in the proposed treatment of it. First all Indians and particularly all opposition parties need to understand the issues before taking the next step.

    Currently there is no political vocabulary to understand rise of populist, illiberal & authoritarian leaders like Hungary’s’ Orbán or Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan or President Duterte of Philippines etc. These men have shown us how ‘a non-authoritarian state can practice every day acts of authoritarianism and illiberalism within established democracies.

    These types of leaders intimidate & marginalize opposition, criminalize dissent, practice one-way communication, control media, create & battle pseudo-oppositions, dismantle/weaken and control institutions required for effective functioning of democracy, curb NGOs, selective application of law, silence in the face of violence by its supporters etc. The list of such systematic & consistent actions to weaken and dismantle democracy is quite big. There is a need to focus on what govt under these leaders actually do and understand its implications.

    Popularity of these leaders is based on emotional appeal to convincing people that they are sincere and strong-willed leaders who will bring a brighter future for the common man. These leaders divert attention from their failures to solve people’s problems to manufactured source of problems new demons – opposition parties in a democracy or any one critical of govt. These leaders have mastered the art of digital communications, use powerful imagery, talk of a great future based on glorious past etc.

    These leaders are elected and re-elected as they have mastered the techniques of control over the electoral process, maintaining political dominance behind a screen of false diversity and pseudo opposition. These governments engage in authoritarian and/or illiberal practices and continue these things in spite of their failures. These modern authoritarian leaders love respectability that a democratic election confers but don’t want to lose your vote. However, they work hard to see that they win elections. These uber-populist, illiberal & authoritarian leaders have a created a new model of democracy that is really pretty ugly.

    Yogendra Yadavji it is time for you to educate masses otherwise there will be zero-tolerance in India in the future.

  2. Yogendra Yadav is a revelation, really. “Main iss mandi mein gaya, mein uss mandi mein gaya…” Right until the end he was projecting himself as someone who understood agriculture, had the good of farmers at heart, how Modi government was being callous and unfair towards farmers, etc. He was giving interviews to journalists as a man on the political side of the fence himself, reminiscing to one how his father had named him Salim and what not. But just a whimper of the results later, Yogendra Yadav is a totally changed man. For the sake of even feigned concern, he should have expressed at least some shock or disappointment or sympathy with his comrade farmers, with a helpless gentlemanly tilt of the head saying as if, “look brother, I really tried!” Nothing of that sort. Yadav has just moved on. He has seamlessly moved into his other job of pepsilogists or psephologists or whatever they are called, and is now frowning upon Modi’s opponents with whom at one time he tried to express oneness of purpose, for why they couldn’t be opponents enough to Modi. He’s not just a man with an affected soft voice but a supple creature himself. No wonder Arvind Kejriwal got rid of him quickly as someone who only wanted to smart-Alec around all the time.

  3. Time and again Indian voter has proved Modi-haters wrong. Opposition did many wrong in spite of warning signals from voters. It looks almost every strategy of oppositions has been counter productive. Indian voter has now matured and he/she can’t be fooled, cheated or deceived by political gimmickry. Political leader’s credibility is very critical for voters but non in opposition is serious about the credibility. Has Rahul Gandhi known this simple fact, he would not have wasted his time by repeating CHOKIDAR CHOR HAI. 24×7 abusing and accusing Modi without producing any proof has boomranged on opposition. Will opposition learn? Probably not unless new leadership emerges.

  4. NDA in its present form won’t be reaching beyond 200 seats. UPA has the edge since non alliance parties (BSP-SP-RLD, INLD, JJP, BJD, YSRCP/TDP, TRS, LF, TMC) are most likely to support them given the present political scenario.
    The exit polls being carried out fall flat given the sample size since in at least 225-250 seats the winning margin will be below 25000 votes. So even a 10000 sample survey size within a PC of nearly 1000000 voters (which I can bet isn’t the case for any agency) won’t be able to capture the scenario and can swing towards any dominant power (be it a bipolar or a triangular contest).

    That’s where the ground scenario and the unbiased political judgement make their way. By traveling every nook and corner of the country and visiting each and every assembly segment ( not as a political commentator or a journalist), interacting with people from every strata ( women voters are tough to judge at times) you can build a perception of the whole scenario.

    N.B. : Be ready to be surprised with the result of West Bengal as you will find the truth about the so called gain of BJP as opposed to the existing political machinery of TMC.

  5. the overriding factor is this left is real power, right is relief power so cong 10 years bjp 5 years is the cycle, but this time cong 10 years would have a shaky start, first bjp coalition will then maha coalition will fail then cong and aap will come in

  6. A weak nation can never fulfill its destiny. Under BJP, country is strong, morale is high and expectations intact. Any individual who dares to imagine Rahul, Mamta or other corrupt leaders, who have both intentionally and unintentionally harmed and attack our democracy, is either delusional or hopeless lost. Modiji is the answer and although no one is perfect, he is clean and his vision bright. Jai Hind

  7. There is very likely possibility of BJP led NDA finishing at around 220 seats and Congress plus at 175. In that case regional heavyweights like TRC, BJD, TRS, SP-BSP, TDP and YSR will hold the key to govt. Formation. The BJP’s losses will be maximum from South India and UP i guess and that will b the reason for a sharp dip in its tally. But we all know how mercurial the likes of Mayawati are. If she along with BJD, YSR lend their support you’ll have the lotus blooming once again.

    • You are making two mistakes. 1. clubbing BJD, YSRC, and TRS with SP, BSP and TDP. 2. BJP is not going to lose anything in South because it did not have much there and you can not lose a thing you never had. In Karnataka, the BJP will surpass its previous showing is accepted by all poll pandits. Though the politician in the psephologist YY is shy of admitting the fact that Modi is coming back with a thumping majority, it is a fact.

  8. Mr.YY former psephologist ,has given his opinion based on his extensive travel throughout India.His scenarios are plausible. when it comes to loksabha people think of national security,corruption at cabinet level etc. for voting.From that point Mr.Modi has won hands diwn.All other points like rising prices,unemployment are given and Congress did not have better image on these.

  9. CM CBN gives 179 to the BJP, 129 to the Congress. That seems to be a realistic prognosis. To give credit where it is due, Shri Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena was the first to predict a loss of 100 seats for the BJP. This was some time before the Congress won three important northern states.

    • How much is CBN giving *himself* ? He’s going to be a massive loser by abandoning BJP.

      He’s going to lose Andhra. Better worry about that.

  10. Six months back it was about Jobs, Weakening Economy, Farmers distress, Social disharmony etc… then just months before elections Major Terror attack and a botched up cross border operation with dramatic capture and release of Indian pilot which turns election fortunes in favor of BJP. This shows how emotionally weak the Indian voters are, they can be easily fooled enmass on “Fight and Flight” reaction and to BJP learned the art keeping it sustained till elections by carefully crafted propaganda. Strongest weapon in the kitty of BJP religious polarization which is readily used by them when ever they feel weakened. Only difference between Atal era BJP and Modi era era BJP is now they don’t shy away to use stae sponsored voilance for suppressing dissent and Army and Media for political propaganda.

  11. Whatever may be outcome, does it make any tangible difference to the nation. Assuming that Modi loses, what are the likely scenarios? I may consider two : (1) Congress does far better than expectations , Rahul Gandhi becomes PM and UPA-3. takes over. (2) Regional parties excel and Congress is constrained support them from outside or become a junior partner in the Mahagatabandhan. The second scenario is very scary. It is a sure recipe for economic and political instability. This government will not last for long. Option (1 ) is somewhat better. However, the Congress has made many promises in their manifesto that are very difficult to implement in practice. If NYAY is implemented, it can fuel higher fiscal deficit and consequent hyperinflation. Rahul Gandhi has limited administrative experience and his ability to grasp fundamental issues is questionable. How he will manage the nation’s affairs is a frightening prospect. In any case, overpopulation, unemployment, poverty are legacy issues haunting the nation for many decades. How the new government, irrespective of its composition, will address them is a moot point.

  12. There have been so many instances of #EVM fraud, voter roll fraud, EVMs gone missing, the ECI not doing a thing about all that AND counting less than 1% VVPAT receipts. Shouldn’t your predictions mention all that?

    • These are mostly the next set of reasons opposition will be preparing as an excuse for their losses.
      Didn’t people report so many issues with ballot papers earlier? Lets assume EC had replaced EVMs with ballot papers. Is it not possible to do some kind of rigging with that by same party which you are predicting has done with EVMs?
      Even if rigging happens, it cannot be done beyond a point considering so much security today.

      Exit polls are all predicting only one mood without looking at EVM results. So it is clear who is preferred by India and will get confirmation on May 23rd.

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