Exit polls a shot in the arm for Opposition parties

Exit polls a shot in the arm for Opposition parties

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses a public rally at Mahatma Gandhi Stadium Ground ahead of the State Assembly elections, in Mandla district, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (PTI File Photo)

Exit poll predictions in five states have come as a shot in the arm for the Opposition parties struggling to put together a coalition to halt the Narendra Modi juggernaut in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A day before the Winter Session begins, around 20 Opposition parties will meet in Parliament House to work out a coordinated plan to put the ruling BJP on the mat in Parliament and also deliberate about a strategy on holding events to project the Opposition unity across the country on issues in the months preceding the Lok Sabha polls.

The tight contest between the Congress and the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and the clear edge to the Congress in Rajasthan brings out an image of the BJP struggling to retain supremacy in its strong bastions in the Hindi belt, where its principal adversary is the Congress.

If the exit poll predictions come true, it will mean that the ruling party has a rough road ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as it will have to face robust regional forces in the cradle of social politics in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Strong regional leaders like Mayawati (BSP) and Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) in Uttar Pradesh, Lalu Prasad’s RJD backed by the Congress and some other parties could pose a tough challenge to the BJP.

Also read: Chouhan dismisses exit poll predictions

It can also decisively settle the issue of the Congress’s role in the larger Opposition alliance. Leaders like N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP) and Sharad Yadav (LJD) have already made clear that any Opposition alliance minus the Congress is not a feasible proposition to take on the BJP.

Off late, the relationship between the Congress and the SP and BSP, which fielded candidates in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, have not been at the best.

If the Congress scores a big win in the three Hindi states, its bargaining power will rise in states like Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar.

Particularly in UP, where there are 80 Lok Sabha seats, the SP, BSP and Ajit Singh’s RLD have come together and there was an indication that Mayawati, in particular, was not very keen to give a good number of seats to the Congress.

If the BSP’s alliance with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh fails to make a substantial impact, Mayawati will not have that kind of an upper hand in UP, where it has already lost two successive Assembly polls and scored a “duck” in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Jogi, however, rubbished the exit poll predictions calling it a “joke” and claimed that their alliance will form a government in Chhattisgarh.