Bihar exit polls prove wrong media pundits who handed win to Nitish-led alliance after only two phases

Exit polls have defied the perception built by a section of the media and the Mahagathbandhan strategists that the Bihar election was “done and dusted” after the first two phases and the other three phases were only to decide the margin of victory of the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Coalition over its rival NDA.




The perception was built more by aggressive word of mouth publicity than by written words or other means of communication. After letting loose the consciously-built hype, the leaders of the Mahagathbandhan went on an overdrive claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “fled the Bihar campaign” and the BJP was tearing away his posters and hoardings to protect him from post-poll ignominy. In this psychological/perception war it didn’t matter that Modi returned after conclusion of the Navratra festivities to campaign vigorously and hoardings bearing his and BJP chief Amit Shah’s pictures were all over Patna and the districts of Bihar.

But then, as they say half-truth, lies and deceit are fair in a war-like situation. On this point, the Mahagathbandhan strategists scored heavily against the NDA. However, there’s more to elections than perception games. As exit polls reveal, both sides remain neck and neck. Of the seven exit polls that have come, four give clear advantage to the Mahagathbandhan and three to the NDA. Two exit polls, NewsX-CNX (130-140) and ABP-AC Nielsen (130) predict decisive victory for the Nitish-led alliance while two others predicted decisive victory for NDA. News24-Today Chankaya, which has often hit bullseye, predicted 155 seats for the NDA and NDTV-Hansa, which conducted a more thorough exit poll with a sample size of 76,000 and analysed it in greater detail, came out with the conclusion that the BJP-led NDA could win 120-130 seats.

The point here is not who would eventually win, the Mahagathbandhan or the NDA, but that the exit polls defy what was hurriedly concluded by influential sections of media after the first and the second phase of elections. They declared Bihar elections a closed matter even when 162 seats were yet to go to polling.

Take the conclusion drawn by ABP-AC Nielsen’s exit polls survey which predicted the Mahagathbandhan’s victory. It suggested that in the first phase held for 49 seats the BJP-led alliance would win 22 seats, JD(U)-led alliance would win 25 and others would win two. In the second phase of polling held for 32 seats, both would win an equal number (16) of seats. In the third phase, Neilson gave a decisive lead to the Grand Alliance (37) over the NDA (13). The fourth phase in any case was considered by all to be a BJP stronghold phase.

NDTV-Hansa in its phase-wise exit poll prediction says that in the first phase Mahagathbandhan would win 28 seats, NDA 20 and others one. In the second phase it suggests the former would win 11, the NDA 19, others two. It gives a clear lead to the NDA over Mahagathbandhan in the third (28-21) and fourth (31-21) phases.

ABP-Nielsen and NDTV-Hansa are the only ones who have done phase-wise predictions. In fifth and final phase of polling held for 57 seats in Muslim-Yadav dominated Seemanchal, Kosi and Mithilanchal, both have defied the prevailing perception that it was a “virtual sweep” for the Mahagathbandhan. Nileson gives 24 seats to the NDA and 32 to the Mahagathbandhan. NDTV-Hansa gives 27 seats to the NDA and 28 to the Mahagathbandhan. Hansa says vote share for the NDA should be around 43 percent and for Mahagathbandhan it should be around 41 percent.

The Mahagathbandhan strategists and those who read these elections to be closed after the first two rounds may have the last laugh when the votes are counted tomorrow but for now, exit polls suggest that they got it all wrong. Or the pollsters conducting the exit polls could have picked up wrong trend in the first two rounds.


Bihar exit polls prove wrong media pundits who handed win to Nitish-led alliance after only two phases