The gradually shrinking turnout figures--with a direct correlation to the rising mercury--is making it very difficult to say anything concrete about the outcome in terms of seats.
Moreover, in this phase there appears to be a sharp mismatch between those who have gathered quantitative data and those who rely on more conventional journalistic methods.
Where there is a conflict of conclusions I have given both views:
- In Madhya Pradesh there is no question that the BJP has won a majority of seats. The exit pollster says it is a conclusive victory and that the BJP tally will improve over 2009. Some party activists whose views are generally reliable aren't that optimistic. They see a definite slippage in the Malwa region and final tally of BJP 20 and Congress 9.
- The same confusion prevails as far as Karnataka is concerned. The pollsters who rely on actual exit polls say that it is a conclusive BJP victory verging on a clean sweep. Journalists who were there on polling day say that heavy voting by Muslims and Christians will see a BJP defeat in the Mangalore belt (a similar trend was reported earlier from Bangalore), This fear is shared by some senior BJP leaders too. However, the pollsters are adamant that the Congress performance has been dismal.
- There is relatively less confusion in Uttar Pradesh. There is a consensus that Congress has done very well in Phase 3 and may win seats it has not won since 1984. It has received silent but en masse Muslim support in constituencies such as Lucknow and it has picked up Dalit and upper-caste votes too. However, it is unlikely that this will translate into victories in more than 2 to 3 seats in this phase since the party proceeds from a very low base. The BJP on the other hand may pick up anything between 3 and 5 seats in this phase. Its popular vote is thought to be fractionally below that of the BSP and SP. Like in Phase 2 the SP may be the big loser (although by way of caution let me add that a similar prognosis turned out to be unfounded in both 1999 and 2004). The BSP is picking up seats steadily but the overall tally is nowhere commensurate with what Mayawati won in 2007.
- Apart from NDTV which is forecating a decisive 30-18 win for the Congress-NCP, other pollsters are predicting exactly the opposite result. In the 10 seats of Phase 3, the most generous tally for the Congress is 5 seats. The overall impression is one of a 50:50 divide with the BJP-SS having an advantage in terms of popular votes.
- The direction of the overall Gujarat result isn't in any doubt. Pollsters are predicting anything between 19 and 21 seats for the BJP. The only cautionary note is that there is only a 3-4 per cent difference in the popular vote of the BJP and Congress.
- Pollsters say that Bihar has turned out to be "one sided" in favour of BJP-JD(U) but a poll of polls among bureaucrats in Bihar says it is between 6 and 8 out of 14 for the NDA in Phase 3. I don't think Lalu Yadav will have a problem winning the second seat he is contesting.
- There are two views on the 14 seats of West Bengal that polled in Phase 3. The pollsters are suggesting a decisive Left win with the Cong-TMC picking up at best 4 seats. I have not heard alternative suggestions.
No election is won until the votes are counted.