The Congress will hope desperately to stave off further marginalisation from Indian politics, with a HuffPost-CVoter exit poll predicting that it will win fewer seats than the BJP in Manipur and the contest in Uttarakhand will be neck-and-neck.
The poll projects a massive increase in the BJP's voteshare in Manipur from 2.1% in 2012 to 32.1% this time, while the three-time CM Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress is projected to fall from 42.4% to 31.3% in voteshare.
The BJP is projected to win 23 seats, eight short of a majority, but smaller parties and independents, which the party could potentially win over, are projected to win 18 seats. The Congress tally is expected to more than halve to 19.
The poll for Manipur was conducted by CVoter using its Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing method in the first week of February, on a representative sample of 1,023 respondents covering all 60 seats. The margin of error was +/-3% at the state level and +/-5% at the region level.
Manipur is currently in the throes of a punishing economic blockade, which could have additionally turned some valley voters against the incumbent Congress; the United Naga Council imposed an economic blockade following the government's decision to create new hill districts, which the UNC believes will dilute Naga land holdings and encroach upon their rights. The opinion poll indicates that a majority hold the state government squarely responsible for the violence.
Following its big win in Assam last year, the BJP has made a concerted push into the north-east and has set its sights on winning Congress-held Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram. The party already rules Arunachal Pradesh after the Congress government fell and most MLAs moved to the BJP, and is in the ruling coalition in Nagaland.
Corruption and the threat of violence from insurgent groups topped the list of voters' concerns. Despite evidence of strong anti-incumbency (based on a large majority of voters saying they wanted to change the government), Ibobi tops voters' preference for CM.
In Uttarakhand, the two parties are projected to be neck-and-neck with the difference in voteshare within the margin of error.
The poll for Uttarakhand was conducted by CVoter using its Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing method in the first week of February, on a representative sample of 5,698 respondents covering all 70 seats. The margin of error was +/-3% at the state level and +/-5% at the region level.
The Congress and the BJP are projected to win 34 seats each, two short of a majority, indicating that the result could go either way.
The Congress is expected to sweep Kumaon, where its popular CM Harish Rawat is from, while the BJP is poised to do well in Garhwal. Rawat leads the popularity ratings, and the anti-incumbency sentiment among voters also appears to be relatively low, the poll indicates.
If the Congress does lose the two states, it will be in government in five states only - Meghalaya, Mizoram, Karnataka and Puducherry and a junior partner in the Bihar coalition. That will be a historic low for the party and a historic high for the BJP.Suggest a correction