In a naked defiance of the Election Commission guidelines, Dainik Jagran newspaper has carried out an exit poll in favour of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh even though six more phases of polling are still left.
The newspaper, often accused of being pro-BJP, carried the exit poll by using a sample of 5,700 voters, who cast their votes in the first phase of elections on 11 February.
Its ‘finding’ said, “The BJP will become the numero uno party in the first phase. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will be at second position while the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance is not likely to get a positive response from the voters. The findings were first published by Dainik Jagran website.”
It further added, “The region is crucial to the BJP because it swept all the 12 Lok Sabha seats in Western UP in the 16th general election. The other important thing to be noted is that BJP-led NDA government has three Union Ministers from the region – Mahesh Sharma, Retired General VK Singh, and Sanjeev Baliyan.”
Jagran was among the first media groups Prime Minister had chosen to speak to after becoming the prime minister.
Jagran’s decision to carry out an exit poll in defiance of the EC guidelines is a serious development and the action was bound to have invited punitive action, even closing down of the publication, in any other matured democracy.
While it remains to be seen what action the EC, often perceived to be toothless in the face of violations favouring the BJP, would initiate against the Jagran group, the news has only prompted an otherwise beleaguered saffron party to go to town claiming victory in western Uttar Pradesh, that went to polls on 11 February.
But, the BJP isn’t alone in claiming victory in the first phase of UP polls. A day after the first phase of polling, major parties in Uttar Pradesh claimed that they had swept the round and were on the road to form government in the politically crucial state.
Samajwadi Party party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that the downfall of those who had “befooled” the people promising “achche din” has started while Mayawati asserted that she will prove pollsters wrong as she did in 2007 when they predicted her defeat.
BJP Chief Amit Shah claimed ‘achhe din’ will come in Uttar Pradesh after counting of votes on 11 March.
Claiming that SP was ahead of rivals in the first phase, Akhilesh said the trend will continue and the alliance will get majority.
“We could have got majority alone, but after alliance with Congress we will comfortably win over 300 seats,” Akhilesh said in Badaun.
“The downfall of those who had befooled people promising ‘achche din’ has started. After 2017, they will be wiped out in 2019 also. They (BJP) should tell as to what have they done for people,” he said.
Addressing a rally in Sitapur, Mayawati claimed it was a “clean sweep” for BSP in the first phase.
“The first phase of UP polls was encouraging for BSP. It was a clean sweep for our party. It’s a positive signal that we are going to form government in the state,” she told an election rally here.
She dubbed as “fake” the surveys and opinion polls that said BSP will not come to power and said that they will be proved wrong as in 2007, when her party got majority.
“You should not believe in such surveys. If BSP came to power all development schemes will be restarted and names of schemes and places that were changed will be restored,” she said.
Shah said BSP is the main rival from BJP in first two phases of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and Samajwadi Party in the rest five.
“As per the trend of first phase, we will get more than 50 seats (out of 73). In the first two phases we will be getting more than 90 seats (out of total 140). The main rival in these two phases is BSP. In the next phases, the rival will be SP,” Shah told reporters in Lucknow.
He claimed that issues like payment of cane dues, loans at zero per cent interest to farmers, anti-Romeo squads to check crime against women, and some other key points in BJP manifesto had attracted youths and common people and they were supporting BJP.
Slamming Akhilesh, Shah said he has conceded defeat by sacrificing 105 (of the 403) seats to Congress.
On the chief minister’s charge that ‘acche din’ have eluded the people, he said, “By saying this, Akhilesh has accepted that he has failed. After ruling for five years, he is asking when will ‘acche din’ come. It will come after March 11, when BJP will form government.”
The first phase of UP polls in 73 assembly constituencies witnessed 64.22 per cent voter turnout yesterday. Voting will be held in 67 Assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts on February 15.
The other five phases will be held on February 19, 23 and 27 and on March 4 and 8.
Counting will be taken up on 11 March.
(With PTI inputs)