BJP to get slim majority in Indian polls: Survey

Gautam Lahiri

10 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

New Delhi: The Indian ruling BJP-led alliance will get a slim majority in the upcoming Lok Shabha election that begins tomorrow, four opinion polls show.

The coalition, led by Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is expected to win 273 out of 543 parliamentary seats.

In the last election, the alliance won more than 330 seats - the biggest mandate in three decades.

Most of the polling agencies released survey reports in the last four days, saying that Modi has got a boost from the recent tension with its arch-rival Pakistan over the killings of 40 Indian policemen in Kashmir in February.

“In today’s India we’ve seen perhaps for the first-time security issues competing with, and outdoing, a bread and butter issue like unemployment,” CVoter said in a statement.

“Primarily, BJP has been unable to sufficiently distinguish itself from Congress.”

“However, when it comes to controlling and responding on terror the same set of respondents do feel a clear and visible difference.”

CVoter’s poll is the most conservative, predicting 267 seats for the ruling group, while the Times Now-VMR’s poll is the most bullish, with 279 seats.

The main opposition Congress and its allies are expected to more than double their seats to about 141 on average.

Pre-election opinion polls in India, with thousands of respondents, have proved unreliable several times in the past in a vast country of about 1.3 billion people, of whom about 900 million are eligible to vote.

Congress has blamed BJP for using retaliatory air strikes on Pakistan as a political tool and has instead highlighted job creation, tackling farm distress and empowerment of women, among its top priorities.

BJP has doubled down on the national security issues, promising in its manifesto released on Monday to strip decades-old special rights from the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi has said he will retain power with a bigger mandate than before, while Congress says its plan for annual handouts of 72,000 rupees ($1,034) to the poorest families will help fuel its comeback.

The election will be held in seven phases and votes will be counted on May 23, with results likely to be clear the same day.

Earlier, other survey organisations released reports with similar findings.