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This was by far the biggest of the three phases of elections so far and also it was the phase where BJP had done exceedingly well in 2014 by winning 62 out of the 116 seats that are voting today. Yet, it was also the toughest phase for the BJP for various reasons. It is always hard to repeat a clean sweep in any state after 5 years simply because people are no longer satisfied the way they were soon after independence. Aspirations are sky high today and it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep everybody happy all the time. So, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh would always be tough peaks to repeat after 5 years.

Therefore, on day three of this election season, BJP was facing some rough weather across board. The first 5 hours on this day have been quite tough for the saffron ecosystem. Yes, there is still a long way to go and usually, the core BJP vote comes out the strongest in the afternoon period, so we will have a much better idea of the scene by late evening. Yet, here are the 4 big happenings of this Tuesday morning.

  • Congress is putting up a fight in Gujarat. Yes, BJP is still in pole position, but it is not overwhelming like it was 5 years ago at this point of time when already we were speculating about 24 seats going to the BJP. There are at least 10 seats where there is contest in Gujarat this time at least till about 1 PM.
  • In Uttar Pradesh too, the situation is a bit dicey for the BJP. The Non-Yadav OBC segment is not firing on all cylinders till now as their turnouts are low and vote is split, while Muslims are looking a bit more enthusiastic in this round. By 1 PM, the seat division in UP looks like 50:50 between BJP and the Mahagathbandhan. Of course, the one caveat is that it is still too early in the day and things could change drastically in the last few hours.
  • In the eastern zone too, BJP seems to be faltering in Bengal and Odisha till noon time. It is not very bad and still quite salvageable in both the states, but unlike the first 2 phases where BJP had taken some solid leads by this time of the day, in phase 3 things look a bit tougher. Not surprisingly in Bengal, the fight in today’s round is mostly between BJP and Congress and TMC seems to be out of picture till now which gives the saffron party a bit of hope for the post-noon session.
  • In Kerala too, noon time data is suggesting the fight being mainly between UDF and LDF with BJP being a distant third in most constituencies. It must be stressed here though that we do not have direct real-time data feeds from Kerala and in fact have a lag period of 2-3 hours as team leaders from different regions of the state collate data and information and then log in to our servers.

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Once again, Karnataka and Bihar seem to be the big Saffron saviors today. In Karnataka, BJP is maintaining its momentum of phase 1 and may well end up sweeping this round, despite of the fact that Congress is ahead in Gulbarga, Chikkodi, Koppal and Bidar till about 1 PM. The Congress leads are smaller, whereas BJP leads are more solid in these north Karnataka parts of the state. Plus, the demographic tracker is showing a nearly 70:30 split among Lingayat voters which should give BJP a lot of momentum later in the day.

In Bihar too, the NDA is doing better than expected. NDA is seen to be leading in 3 seats out of 5 till post-lunch hour and is heading for a much better afternoon turnout. In the prestigious Madhepura seat too, it is NDA that is leading this time. Sharad Yadav is likely to bite the dust once again this time – in the 2014 elections too, we had projected by late afternoon about the impending doom of Sharad Yadav much to the chagrin of many secularists and left wing supporters of his.

Since we are not tracking Chhattisgarh this time and extrapolating the recent assembly election data in that state, BJP is most likely to suffer losses there. Maharashtra and Assam could continue to give BJP the momentum, but it really needs to improve upon its position in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in order to finish the day strongly. The task of the BJP is cut out this afternoon.

  1. It has to improve its turnout operations in Uttar Pradesh, especially among the OBC and EBC segments.
  2. Hopefully women will once again give the party a much needed boost in Gujarat in the post-noon session
  3. In Bengal and Kerala, polarization should bear some results. Hindus need to come out in larger numbers for the party to stem the tide in these heavily Left-infused states.

 

What we must remember about today is that BJP has done pretty well till now in the first two phases. Even if it slightly underperforms today, it would still be in pole position, no doubt about it. Of course, if BJP manages to fire on all cylinders today, then the election may well and truly be over for the opposition, because the path to Delhi for the opposition then becomes extremely complicated.

(You can track all our live trackers here)