The first exit polls are now out and they all predict a lead for the BJP, with the SP coming second and the BSP third. The polls seem all relatively consistent, and with the exception of one, do not predict the BJP will win an absolute majority of seats (which is at 202 in UP).
So what do we make of this? First, the BJP would appear to have made inroads into the non-Yadav OBC vote, a very large demographic group which was usually up for grabs in the past. Second, the SP would appear to have limited its losses, and so that would validate the strategy of Rahul and Akhilesh. It remains to be seen whether the alliance will have garnered more votes in urban rather than rural areas. Third, and this is consistent with ‘rumors,’ the BSP would appear to have considerably weakened.
The results won’t be released until Saturday morning. A hung parliament remains very likely at this point. Which means all bets are off, and a ‘khichdi sarka’ – a broader alliance, could emerge. The BSP may be willing to strike a deal with the BJP, but that alliance has not worked well in the past, and Mayawati would not be in a position to covet the post of Chief Minister. The BJP however may be willing to consider letting her become the Chief Minister, if only to further capture ‘Hindu’ votes among the Scheduled Castes. The SP and Congress for their part would probably remain marginalized.