Opposition parties reject exit polls

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Terming exit polls in the past as “inconsistent” and “incorrect”, the opposition parties have played down the predictions for the Lok Sabha elections, claiming that the actual results to be announced on May 23 would be different.

Soon after the exit polls on Sunday largely predicted full majority for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with seats ranging from 282 to 365 while the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was restricted between 82 and 165 seats, opposition leaders expressed their displeasure.

The Congress said that people had not revealed their true choice and the official results would be different from the exit polls.

Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said that exit polls were “regularly wrong”, and seat share and vote share predictions were very difficult to make.

“Fear is the key, so a lot of people are hesitant to reveal their true choice. Let us wait for May 23, the results will be sufficiently different,” he said.

Congress leader P.C. Chacko also said that the results will be different from the exit polls and that there were so many possibilities which will become clear on May 23.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said the pollsters have failed to catch the pulse of the people.

“Exit polls have proved to be incorrect and far from ground reality in many instances. While undoubtedly the TDP will form the government in Andhra Pradesh, we are confident that the non-BJP parties will form a non-BJP govt at the Centre,” Naidu said.

Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the exit polls “gossips” which would be used to manipulate results.

“I don’t trust exit poll gossip. The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all the Opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together,” she said.

If exit polls are to be believed, the Narendra Modi government is coming back to power with full majority, but the predictions by poll survey agencies in the past have been found not to be close to the actual results.

Barring the exit polls in 1998, when some of them were quite close to the actual results, the pollsters went completely wrong in mapping the voters’ mood since 1996.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh said in a tweet that if “TV scientists have any shame” they should remember the exit polls of 2004, 2013 and 2015 about Delhi as also predictions about the recent Assembly elections in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) leader and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan dismissed the exit polls, saying they could go wrong and added that the CPI-M-led Left was going to win big in the state.

“Let us now wait for May 23. Don’t you know that previous exit polls have gone haywire? What did they say in 2004, that the BJP-led NDA would return to power. Did they come,” asked Vijayan.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik said that many of the exit polls results were contradicting themselves, so they lack credibility.

“Our assessment is that BJP+NDA will be restricted to less than 220-225 seats and there may be a hung Parliament. However, this is not reflected in any exit polls which give wide-ranging figures ranging from 225-325 to the BJP+NDA,” he said.

DMK President M.K. Stalin said his party was not bothered much about the exit poll results. “In three days time people’s verdict will be known and we are waiting for that. The party is not bothered about exit poll results, be it positive or negative,” he said.

Riding on ‘Modi wave’, the NDA had won 336 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. None of the major pollsters, except Today’s Chanakya, had expected the NDA’s tally would cross the 300-mark.

The pollsters had failed in 2009 when the Congress-led UPA won 262 seats, a figure no pollster could even come close to.

In 2004, Outlook-MDRA and Star-C-Voter had predicted that the incumbent Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government will return to power by giving it 290 and 275 seats, respectively.

Other pollsters, including Aaj Tak and NDTV, had also expected the NDA to do better than the Congress and allies by giving it 248-250 seats.

However, all exit polls were wide off the mark as the NDA could bag only 159 seats while the Congress and allies, which went on to form a government later under the UPA banner, won 262 seats.

Following the early collapse of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, most exit polls predicted the NDA, which was a coalition of 24 parties, would win between 329 and 336 seats.

It won 296 seats and HT-AC Nielsen was closest to the actual results as it had predicted 300 seats.

In 1998, the top four election surveys — India Today-CSDS, DRS, Outlook-AC Nielsen and Frontline-CMS — had predicted that NDA would get between 214 and 249 seats, less than the halfway mark of 272. Eventually, NDA got 252 seats.