At least five exit polls have predicted that the BJP’s number of Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal will increase to 11-19 from only two now.
The India News-Polstrat exit poll has pegged the BJP's share of seats at 14, Republic-CVoter at 11, Times Now-VMR 11, ABP-Nielsen 16 and Sudarshan News 19 seats.
Most of the gains are at the expense of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). As opposed to 34 seats in 2014, the TMC is likely to get 26 seats, according to India News-Polstrat. Republic-CVoter has given the party 29, Times Now-VMR 28, ABP-Nielsen 24, and Sudarshan News 20 seats.
The Congress, which had won four seats, will be restricted to two seats, according to all the five exit polls. The Left Front, which bagged two seats in 2014, is either going to lose both (according to India News Polstrat, Republic-CVoter, and ABP-Nielsen) or might hold on to just one seat (Times Now-VMR and Sudarshan News’s prediction).
If the exit poll results are even close to the final results, then the BJP has emerged as a real challenger to the TMC in Bengal. The BJP had been steadily increasing its vote share in West Bengal since 2011.
In the 2011 Assembly elections, the BJP had just 4 per cent vote share. This climbed to 17 per cent in 2014 on the back of a wave for Narendra Modi. In 2016, however, the saffron party's share of votes fell to 10.16 per cent.
West Bengal was part of the BJP's ‘focus east’ strategy. With 42 seats, the third-largest state became an obvious target.
In the run-up to the elections, BJP President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held numerous rallies in the state. Modi held at least 17 rallies —second only to Uttar Pradesh. The election battle might be remembered for the war of words between Modi and Mamata, but the rise of the BJP in Bengal seems to be inevitable according to the exit polls.