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A party born out of a TV studio has a constant urge to remain in the TV studios. This is what AAP has become today. A born again communist like Atishi Marlena who has a history of hatred towards Indian civilization had to resort to a fake pamphlet to create a storm in the TV studios in a desperate attempt to somehow remain relevant in the electoral contest. Even Delhi voters are not that dumb to invest their time in such theatrics.

The one good news of this Sunday morning is that Atishi is trailing by a wide margin, although she is still second as Congress party’s Arvinder Singh Lovely is a distant third. The sheer star power of cricketer Gautam Gambhir in combination with the desire to give Modi another chance is driving the BJP to the top. In the end, BJP may end up winning this seat by a bigger margin than in 2014. 

All the 7 seats of Delhi are now showing a clear saffron edge. Sheila Dixit did show a bit of fight in the early hours of morning, but by noon she too had fallen apart. This former CM of Delhi may even go to the third place if these trends continue. Meenakshi Lekhi too is comfortably ahead in the New Delhi constituency and Congress party’s Ajay Makhan is in a tight contest with the Aam Aadmi Party for the runner-up position. Even the supposedly bell-weather seat of North-West Delhi has given BJP a decent enough lead, once again proving that candidates are irrelevant in this election; BJP’s sitting MP, Udit Raj having joined Congress has made literally zero impact on the voters here. 

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In the neighboring Haryana too, BJP is expectedly leading in 9 seats out of the 10 that are polling today, while 1 seat is in the tossup category. Indeed, Haryana is a state, like Karnataka, where BJP is definitely gaining seats as compared to the 2014 peak. This is why the punditry built on a lazy theory about “BJP will likely lose seats in the heartland and therefore not get a majority on its own” is so lame. Minor losses from states like Madhya Pradesh and even possibly Uttar Pradesh may get replenished by minor gains in states of this same BJP territory. On the other hand, big gains from the eastern blocks has the potential to catapult the saffron party beyond the 2014 peak.

BJP’s hopes in Bengal in this phase rest largely on its performance in the tribal Jangalmahal belt adjacent to neighboring Jharkhand. Surprisingly, BJP is continuing its good run in Bengal, even in this Naxal affected belt. In today’s polling, at least till post-noon reporting of numbers, BJP seems to stand a chance in 3 seats while there are a couple of tossups too. “Our performance in this belt will surprise all you political pundits and shock the ruling TMC”, a confident Dilip Ghosh, the BJP state unit chief and sitting Kharagpur MLA, has been saying again and again. He attracts large crowds wherever he travels and even in rural areas, large gatherings of women with saffron flags greet him everywhere. He is also a contestant in today’s Mednipur Lok Sabha seat and is pretty confident of winning it.

Our models are now gaining confidence (in terms of probability %) about BJP winning 15 seats in West Bengal. In fact, there is more legroom above for the saffron party as it can even go closer to a 20-seat haul. Such a tally would be historic, coming from Bengal where the Left political ethos has always dominated the landscape. There are four big reasons why BJP is constantly improving in Bengal with each passing day and each passing phase.

  1. When the polling season began, there were concerns about BJP lacking effective ground game in Bengal as it simply lacked cadre and party workers – for instance, in about 12000 polling booths of the state, BJP did not even have polling agents, let alone cadre base to take on TMC. But, as the local Left leaders and workers sensed an opportunity to defeat Mamata (with whom many have deadly feud over the last 10 odd years), they started shifting en masse towards the BJP which helped fill the last mile gap everywhere.
  2. The way the election was structured has really helped BJP a lot. Because the first three phases were in areas with weaker TMC presence of the northern parts of the state, BJP picked up a handful of seats here. Once the word started spreading about the saffron gain, people started gaining confidence that TMC can be defeated after all. It is now purely momentum that is pushing the BJP ahead.
  3. Both Prime Minister Modi and party president Amit Shah have increased their exposure in terms of rallies by the former and roadshows by the latter which has had a huge ripple effect. Their presence in Bengal almost every alternate day gives the opposition voter the confidence that they haven’t been orphaned to face the TMC goons on their own. This reassurance is a big factor in Bengal’s patronage covered society.
  4. Yes, Bengal is still a very violent electoral geography and we get to hear about TMC goons threatening, attacking and intimidating opposition leaders as well as voters, but this is still the most free election in recent memory because of the strong presence of central forces. Even if the central forces manage to reduce TMC’s “vote capture” by a factor of as little as 10%, it would make a huge overall difference to the eventual outcome.

 

Other than Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand too continued to give positive numbers to the BJP and NDA in phase six – as always, we will have a detailed analysis on these deeply rural and tribal states once we have full data which takes 24 hours to fully accrue on to our servers, in fact, even Election Commission turnout data takes about a day or two to update completely in these geographies.

Uttar Pradesh is a tougher state today because of the arithmetic. BJP needs a 4-5% swing in its favor in today’s poll in these Poorvanchal districts to defeat the SP-BSP combine. So far, till about 1 PM, our trackers have found nearly 3% positive swing in favor of the BJP which is an extremely heartening news for the saffron supporters. Perhaps, what is more important is that Congress is still gaining a bit of vote-share which could hurt the Mahagatbandhan much more than BJP gaining swing votes.

As many pundits have been pointing out, just going by 2014 arithmetic, BJP should lose 13 of the 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh voting today, but in reality our models believe there is contest in 7 seats while Modi should be able to pick the other 7 easily. In any case, let us wait till full data release and until after we have mapped the turnout differential fully to come to any meaningful conclusions.