From the India Today television studios looking at the exit polls of a very significant election voting 5 new governments the one fact that stares at us is the ‘decimation’ of the Congress; Assam seems to be heading towards a BJP majority, West Bengal projects an even bigger number for the TMC and Kerela too seems to be rejecting the Congress. What may have gone wrong for Tarun Gogoi, 3 times Chief Minister, the wily election craftsman? The answer may be in the record high voting percentage coupled with a 70% anti incumbency against the Gogoi government. Besides the high turnout what could have gone right for the BJP?
‘People wanted change’ sounds rather cliched but the Bengal slogan of ‘Poriborton’ was sort of adopted in Assam 2016 and it may have worked for the saffron alliance. Did the face of a tribal chief ministerial candidate work well in a state with a significant tribal population? BJP not only had the Bodo front with them, they have the Tiwas and the Rabhas too. The AIUDF tipped to be the kingmaker in this election seems to have been edged out clearly not consolidating on Muslim votes as was predicted. That is because there is no one-Muslim vote bank and if that vote was divided a result like this exit poll could just be closer to the real numbers that will be out on Thursday. Post Bihar loss the BJP changed its strategy in Assam and did not project Modi alone instead they had familiar local faces taking charge. Has Himanta Biswa Sarma’s switch made a difference? Everyone would agree with it but what happened in 2014 general elections when Himanta was still with the Congress and the BJP won most of the seats?
Predicting polls is a dangerous business and the Indian voter is never predictable. But it makes for an interesting discussion before the real thing gets out of the box!
Kishalay Bhattacharya is a senior journalist and author based in Delhi. His most recent book is Blood On My Hands: Confessions of Staged Encounters