If post-poll surveys are to be believed, then Narendra Modi is going to return as the PM. Most media survey exit polls have predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) might win with more than 300 seats.
However, there are as many as 78 swing seats where the contest is expected to go down the wire. Going by the exit poll results, the NDA has an edge over the majority of the swing seats, but a thin one.
The NDA is ahead in 37 swing seats (BJP in 33, allies in four) while the UPA is expected to have an upper hand in 17 swing seats (Congress in 13, allies in four).
These seats have a less than 3 per cent gap in vote share between the winner and runner-up, and with such a thin margin it can go either ways when the actual votes are counted on Thursday.
One can draw parallels with the recent Assembly elections held in Madhya Pradesh where as many as ten constituencies witnessed a close finish between the Congress and the BJP.
It was anybody’s game until the last round of counting of votes concluded. In the end, seven such results went in favour of the Congress, with the BJP winning the rest.
These seats can make a major dent on the poll outcome and the power dynamics if they swing the other way. In Madhya Pradesh, if those close finishes would have gone in the BJP’s favour, the party would have easily returned to power.
This is what the opposition parties are pinning their hopes on, even though the exit polls were not in their favour.
Most of these seats are spread over politically volatile states, including Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal where many regional parties are in the fray. A win by regional parties could easily upset the poll calculations of the national parties.
According to the exit poll results, even if the BJP loses in all of the 33 swing seats, it will still be well ahead of the magic figure with 285 seats — where the exit poll has predicted a sure-shot win for the party.
On the other hand, for the Congress, there are 13 such swing seats where it has a slight advantage. But if the party loses these close battles, its tally might get reduced to just 38 seats, its worst performance ever.
If the BJP manages to convert all 33 swing seats into wins, it can improve its tally to 318, a historic feat in itself.
No single political party has crossed the 300-mark on its own since 1984 when the Congress won more than 400 seats, riding on the sympathy wave after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal together are likely to witness 24 such close battles. In UP, the BJP has locked horns with BSP-SP alliance, the Mahagathbandhan.
It has a clear lead in seven such seats, while the BJP has an advantage in another seven seats.
Interestingly, if the SP-BSP alliance loses all these seven tough seats, it would score in single digit despite receiving close to 40 per cent vote share, according to the exit poll findings.
In West Bengal, the BJP is in a close fight with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) in five seats. If the TMC loses all these five seats to the BJP, it will give a massive boost to the BJP, especially ahead of the Assembly elections in 2021.