Election fever gripped the Capital with exit polls predicting a photo-finish in the politically critical Madhya Pradesh, edge for the Congress in Chhattisgarh and a clean sweep for it in Rajasthan, where votes were polled along with Telangana on Friday.
Till late evening, Telangana recorded a provisional voter turn out of 67 per cent, while Rajasthan reported 72.62 per cent. It was 75.23 per cent for Rajasthan in the 2013 Assembly polls and 69.5 per cent in Telangana in 2014. In both the States, the final figure is expected to be higher as voters were standing in line to cast their ballot late into the evening, officials said. In both the States, the voting was peaceful barring a few incidents, officials said.
ED search at Vadra’s house
There was high drama with an Enforcement Directorate search on Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra, a move described by Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala as a sign of “Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) being jittery at the BJP’s imminent defeat in all the five States”.
Exit polls, however, predicted a more complex picture with a near unanimity among pollsters only in the case of Rajasthan — India Today–Axis MyIndia giving 119-141 seats to the Congress and 55-72 seats to the BJP in the 200-seat Assembly, Republic-CVoter predicting 137 to the Congress and 60 seats to the BJP and TimesNow-CNX poll predicting 105 seats for the Congress and 85 to the BJP.
In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the pollsters were united in the view that it was a “close contest” but came up with different results. India Today-Axis MyIndia poll said the Congress was slightly ahead with 104-122 seats while the BJP followed closely 102-120 in the 230-member Assembly. Republic-CVoter poll predicted the Congress heading towards a majority in MP with 110-126 seats and the BJP inching behind with 90-106 seats. The ABP-CSDS survey predicted a clear majority for the Congress in this crucial State with 126 seats while it gave 94 seats to the BJP.
In Chhattisgarh too, pollsters were unanimous in calling it “nail-biting contest” while they came up with different results. Some pollsters, including India Today-MyIndia and Republic-CVoter, gave a majority to the Congress with 55-65 seats and 42-50 seats, respectively, in the 90-member Assembly. The others, such as ABP-CSDS and India TV-CNX predicted a BJP victory with 52 seats and 42-50 seats to the ruling party, respectively.
The TRS was the pollsters’ favourite for a second term with TimesNow-CNX predicting 66 seats for the incumbent in the 119-member Assembly.
Tight race in Mizoram
In Mizoram, the Congress and the Mizo National Front were predicted by Republic-CVoter to get an equal number – 14-18 to the Congress and 16-20 to the MNF – in the 40-member Assembly.
Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi kept the heat on with his warning tweet over EVM manipulation. “In MP, EVMs behaved strangely after polling: Some stole a school bus and vanished for two days. Others slipped away and were found drinking in a hotel. In Modi’s India, the EVMs have mysterious powers. Stay alert!” Gandhi tweeted.
The Election Commission denied allegations of EVM being misused, pointing out that in MP, the strong room for storing the EVM was close to a Reliance Jio mobile tower which was not functioning properly. “The strong room was about 100 metres away from the mobile tower to which people went to repair it. We have three layers of security for the strong room,” the official said. In response to a query on whether in Rajasthan an EVM and VVPAT was found to be in the wrong place, officials said a poll official had taken the reserve EVM and VVPAT away the previous evening. “The poll official has been served a show cause notice,” said the EC official.