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Exit polls: BJP to retain Gujarat, gain HP

New Delhi: After months of tumultuous and often extremely bitter high-stakes campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly elections, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President-Elect Rahul Gandhi personally steering their parties' pitch to woo voters, the BJP looks headed for decisive victory not only in Gujarat but also in Himachal Pradesh. Almost all exit polls conducted by various media organisations predicted more than 100 seats for the BJP in Gujarat, where the party has been ensconced in power for 22 years.
The Congress was, however, skeptical about the predictions, with party spokesperson Shobha Oza saying exit polls have proved wrong in elections before, and claiming it will emerge victorious. In Himachal Pradesh, where the electorate has chosen the Congress and BJP alternately in Assembly polls, the exit polls projected a clear majority for the saffron party, unseating the Congress.
Today's Chanakya gave BJP 135 seats in Gujarat and predicted a measly 47 for the Congress, 14 less than the opposition party has in the current Assembly. It predicted a voteshare of 49 per cent for the BJP and 38 per cent for challenger Congress.
A party or an alliance has to win at least 92 seats in the 182-member House to form government in Gujarat. In the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 115 seats, the Congress 61 and others six. The Times Now-VMR Exit poll predicted 115 seats for the BJP and 64 for the Congress, with the remaining going to others. The Republic-C Voter Exit Poll gave the BJP 108 seats and the Congress 74.
The ABP-CSDS exit survey by ABP News predicted a BJP victory in 117 seats as against the Congress's 64. NDTV said the BJP was likely to clinch 112 seats and the Congress 70.
A survey by India Today's 'Aaj Tak' news channel also predicted that the BJP would retain power in the state, winning anywhere between 99 and 113 seats. Aaj Tak's was the lone survey that said the BJP's tally could slip under 100. It projected 62 to 82 seats for the Congress.
India TV-VMR survey also forecast a BJP win, with the party likely to clinch anywhere between 108 and 118 seats. The Congress, it said, could win 61 to 71 seats. The survey said the BJP could garner 48 per cent of the votes polled, the Congress 41 and others 11 per cent.
In Himachal Pradesh, the exit polls predicted the BJP's return to power with a comfortable majority. The Times Now-VMR and Zee News-Axis exit polls predicted identical tally of 51 seats for the BJP in the 68-member Assembly. A party needs 35 seats for a simple majority in the House. The Times Now-VMR poll gave 16 seats to the Congress and one to other, while the Zee News-Axis poll forecast 17 seats for the current ruling party. The Aaj Tak-Axis exit poll gave 47-55 seats to the saffron party and 13-20 to the Congress.
On voting day, democracy shows its colourful side too
Ahmedabad: As Gujarat voted in the second phase of polling on Thursday, some eye-catching scenes — women playing garba on their way to booths and bridegrooms heading to polling stations before marriage venues — underscored the enthusiasm of the electorate. From youngsters to elderly, politicians to bureaucrats, people from all sections of the society came out to get inked.
His wedding scheduled for Thursday, Harish Bhavsar, a businessman from Vatva area, was at the cusp of beginning a new life. But it did not stop him from exercising his franchise. Before heading to the wedding venue, he cast his vote. "I didn't want to miss voting and that's why I ensured I reached here (polling booth) before proceeding for marriage," he said.
Another bridegroom, Satish Patel went to the polling booth in the Ghatlodia assembly segment here and exercised his franchise before heading to the marriage venue. Adding colours to the democratic exercise, some women voters were seen playing garba, a popular dance form of Gujarat, on their way to a poll booth in Satellite area here.
For Ram Krishna Choksi, it was an occasion to assert his democratic right, which the 80-year-old has been doing election after election. Accompanied by his wife Urmila, he came to cast his ballot at a polling booth at a college here. "It is the duty of every citizen to vote," said the octogenarian.
Dhaval Thakor, a first-time voter, was happy over his maiden walk to the polling booth and said he wanted the new government to deal with the issues of livelihood and create more job opportunities. "I work at an electricity shop. I want the next government to ensure there is no dearth of jobs for people like me. I could not continue my studies after failing in the board examination, but I need a job to sustain my life," the 19-year-old said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah were among the voters in Ahmedabad. Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel, former CM Anandiben Patel were also among political leaders who voted.

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