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Why elections 2019 may spring a surprise on May 23

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New Delhi, May 21: If exit polls are to be believed, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is heading for a massive victory in the 17th Lok Sabha election, the numbers may vary but all the pollsters are showing a similar trend.

Unlike previously, there is no split verdict or predictions of a hung house. The findings are hard to accept to be true as many believe that they don't reflect the true thinking of the people or reflect the will of the people.

Why elections 2019 may spring a surprise on May 23

The poll of polls, an aggregate of exit polls, gives the NDA 302 of 543 seats and the Congress and its allies 122, which would mean the BJP would surpass its 2014 tally of 282 and quite possibly cross the 300 mark on its own.

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Only two polls predicted that the NDA would fall short of a majority: NewsX-Neta (242) and ABP News-Nielsen (267). Most of the polls suggested that the Congress, which had registered its worst performance in 2014 with 44 seats, would fall below the 100 mark, with News18-IPSOS projecting only 46 seats for the party.

But even the difference between CVoter's 287 seats for the NDA and the 350 seats by Today's Chanakya would mean two completely different results and produce two completely different Modi second terms.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to retain power, with BJP securing a majority, riding on another clean sweep of the Hindi heartland and making significant gains in West Bengal and Odisha, according to most exit polls released on Sunday.

Looking at UP exit poll data, the variations among major exit polls are quite visible. Times Now VMR survey predicts NDA to get 58 seats, a loss of 15 seats from 2014 in the state. The loss for the BJP is gain for the grand alliance with predicted 20 seats in the survey.

However three exit polls, Today's Chanakya, Axis My India and IPSOS predict more than 60 seats for the BJP.

While Chanakya predicts 65 seats, Axis My India predicts a range of 62-68 seats for the BJP.

The number for grand alliance has been predicted in a range of 7 to 19 by these three poll surveys. Axis My India data shows a four percentage point swing more than 2014 from 44 per cent to 48 per cent in favour of the BJP gained at the cost of SP-BSP alliance.

The alliance is reduced from 43 per cent vote share of 2014 to 39 per cent.

All the major exit poll indicate double digits for the saffron party in the Trinamool bastion. Currently, the BJP has two MPs in the Lower House from West Bengal.

Many predicted a landslide 7 out of 7 seat win in Delhi for the BJP. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won all of these seven seats with a vote share of 46.6 per cent.

In Maharashtra, the poll of polls gave 36 seats to the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, which is a five-seat drop from their 2014 tally of 41.

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The NDA would fail to make a mark in southern states, except for Karnataka. The ABP-Nielsen exit poll suggested that BJP would be unable to maintain its grip over Uttar Pradesh.

As per the exit polls, it appears that voters do not care as much about the unemployment rate being at a 45-year high, rural distress and other such issues. Which is what makes the 2019 Exit Polls hard to believe.

Even the top BJP leaders have mocked the exit polls saying they were not exact polls. Exit polls do not mean exact polls. We have to understand that. Since 1999, most of the exit polls have gone wrong, said Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu hours after pollsters predicted a massive win for the saffron party.

Union minister Nitn Gadkari also echoed the similar statement saying, the exit polls are not the "final decision" but indicate that the BJP will once again come to power.

The exit polls have been debunked by a host of opposition leaders like TDP's Chandrababu Naidu, Trinamool's Mamata Banerjee and Congress' Shashi Tharoor and Amarinder Singh. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah's opinion differed with that of other leaders as he said every opinion poll could not be wrong.

In India's 2004 general election, then-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee looked invincible. The media and the pollsters alike agreed that he would come back. for another term. The defeat of Vajpayee's BJP-led NDA came as a surprise.

Now, Modi critics think something similar can happen in 2019 too.

Critics believe the underlying construct of exit polls challenges the definition of random sampling, and therefore the polls carry a higher margin of error.

Like other polls, exit polls can overstate the case of vocal voters and miss the silent vote-and in India, there is an another factor, false responses driven by fear of retribution. Also, a higher turnout can skew assumed weightages, leading to erroneous calls on trajectory and/or tally.

The crux of credibility is in what pollsters chose to do or not to do. So, keep your fingers crossed until May 23, where we get the real mandate of the people.

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