All exit poll data has predicted a return of Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments in Maharashtra and Haryana on Monday. The exit polls, however, differed in the extent of the victory of the BJP and its allies, and that of the defeat of the Congress, and other Opposition parties. The votes will be counted on Thursday.
The BJP, confident of securing a two-thirds majority in both the states, will meet on Tuesday to take stock of the exit polls as well as its internal assessments. The party is expected to showcase the Assembly poll wins as vindication of the Narendra Modi government’s policies at the Centre, especially scrapping of provisions of Article 370 and efficient implementation of its social welfare schemes, but also a defeat of the Opposition’s criticism on economic slowdown.
With some exit polls predicting the BJP could reach the halfway mark on its own in Maharashtra, a point of interest will be how it accommodates its ally, the Shiv Sena, in the government, and whether it agrees to have the Sena’s youth leader Aditya Thackeray as deputy to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The BJP’s wins will strengthen Fadnavis as well as Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. The BJP and Sena did not have a pre-poll alliance for the 2014 Assembly polls.
The ramifications for the Opposition are likely to be more severe. The Congress is in the midst of a power struggle between the veterans, led by Ahmed Patel and others, and its younger leaders, whom Rahul Gandhi leads.
Recent events suggest a denouement in this tussle could happen soon. Last week, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda did not turn up for a Rahul Gandhi rally in Mahendragarh, and Rajasthan Deputy CM Sachin Pilot publicly criticised CM Ashok Gehlot-led government. In the run up to the polls, several of those close to Gandhi have either been ejected from key posts, or have quit.
In Maharashtra, key Congress leaders like Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde restricted themselves in campaigning in their pocket boroughs. The Congress is at cross purposes ideologically as well.