If the assembly elections in the three states Tuesday were seen as
the first major popularity test since the Lok Sabha polls, the
Congress is set to consolidate its top position, going by the early
projections made by IBN-Lokmat and Star News-Nielson.
The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance is likely to
win in Maharashtra, according to IBN-Lokmat Times projections.
According to these projections, the ruling Congress-NCP alliance
will win 135 to 145 seats in the 288-member assembly with the
Congress garnering 75-85 seats and the NCP 55-65 seats.
The projections gave 105-115 seats to the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) coalition with 45-55 seats to the BJP and 55-65 seats to
the Shiv Sena.
Star News-Nielson, on the other hand, predicted the Congress will
win 89 seats and NCP 48 - thus the two together claiming 137 seats
and falling short of the clear majority mark of 145.
According to the Star News-Nielson exit poll, the Shiv Sena and BJP
will get only 62 and 51 seats respectively, making the Maharashtra
Navnirman Sena (MNS) a kingmaker with 12 seats.
In the 2004 assembly polls, the NCP and the Congress won 71 and 69
seats respectively. The Shiv Sena was on top in 62 constituencies
while the BJP bagged 52 seats.
For Haryana, where Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress is looking
to return to power, the Star News-Nielson exit poll predicted the
ruling party will win 57 of the 90 seats, while the Indian National
Lok Dal (INLD) will win 18.
After counting of votes, election results will be declared Oct 22.