The bellwether seats that might go against the winds

Elections have concluded, exit polls done, and results are just a day away. Almost all exit polls have given a clear majority to the NDA and predicted a second term for the Narendra Modi government.

Previously, India Today's Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) had analysed that there are 20 such constituencies that have elected the ruling party or alliance that went on to form the government at the Centre in the last five Lok Sabha elections. We thus called them bellwether seats.

Analysing the India Today-Axis My India post poll study, DIU has found that there are five such seats, which might lose their bellwether significance, if the prediction on them goes right.

THE SOUTH INDIA EFFECT

Interestingly, all the five seats that might deviate from its pattern of electing the party in power are in South India.

Three seats are in Andhra Pradesh (Kakinada, Amalapuram and Rajahmundry), one in Tamil Nadu (Dharmapuri) and one in Telangana (Secunderabad).

In 2014, all the three Andhra Pradesh seats were won by the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party. The TDP had formed a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in 2014 but it walked out of the NDA in March 2018, accusing the Centre of not providing special status to the state.

The India Today-Axis My India exit poll predicted that the three seats - Kakinada, Amalapuram and Rajahmundry - are going to land in the hands of Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party this time.

Five constituencies that have voted for party that forms government for past 5 elections may go a different path this year

Since YSRCP has not formed any pre-poll alliance with any party, these three seats might lose the bellwether tag if poll predictions turn out to be true.

Secunderabad Lok Sabha seat in Telangana, currently represented by BJP's Bandaru Dattatreya, is predicted to land in the hands of Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

The K Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS has performed extremely well in the recent state elections, winning 88 of the 119 assembly seats. The TRS did not ally with the BJP in 2014, and nor has it done so this time. The exit poll has not predicted a tough contest for the TRS in Secunderabad; thus, it's about to lose its bellwether significance if the projections come true.

The last seat whose bellwether significance is under cloud is Tamil Nadu's Dharmapuri where there is a tough contest between Congress ally DMK and BJP ally PMK. The DMK has fielded 41-year-old DNV Senthil Kumar S from Dharmapuri who is facing incumbent PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss.

BJP CLEAN SWEEP ON 15 BELLWETHER SEATS?

Of the 20 bellwether seats, the BJP+ does not face tough competition in 15 seats, exit poll data shows.

Since 1977, Valsad in Gujarat, a seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribe, has been a bellwether seat. Though it was expected that it will be a tough fight between the BJP and Congress in this seat, exit polls have given a clear edge to the former. Current BJP MP KC Patel and popular tribal leader and four-time Kaprada MLA Jitu Bhai Chaudhari from Congress are locked in a contest here.

Among other bellwether seats, actor Urmila Matondkar, contesting from Mumbai North on a Congress ticket, is predicted to lose to the BJP. In Delhi East constituency, AAP's Atishi Marlena is predicted to lose to BJP's star candidate and former cricketer Gautam Gambhir.

Exit polls for all bellwether seats from Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra show that the BJP+ is set to win them without facing tough competition.

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