The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena are set to retain power in Maharashtra, bagging 141 and 102 seats respectively, according to the News18-IPSOS exit poll result that was released at 6.30 pm on Monday, half an hour after voting in the Assembly election concluded in the state.
The BJP is expected to win 43 seats in Vidarbha and 22 and 26 seats in Marathwada and western Maharashtra respectively. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena is slated to win 22 seats in Marathwada and 16 seats each in Mumbai and western Maharashtra.
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According to the exit poll, the Mahayuti (BJP-Sena alliance) will have a massive margin over the Maha agadhi, comprising the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The alliance between Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led party is predicted to bag only 41 of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Rural areas of the state fared better, with voters there showing more enthusiasm than their urban counterparts. Polling began at 7 am and ended at 6 pm. Prominent voters included RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, former President Pratibha Patil and Raj Thackeray.
The Congress said it filed over 250 complaints of poll procedure violations with the Election Commission, including one for Ramtek segment where it said if the EVM button was pressed in favour of Congress candidate, the vote was shown to be going to the BJP nominee.
For the News18-IPSOS exit poll, 72 Assembly constituencies were selected and then 432 individual polling station areas were selected using systematic random sampling (SRS) process for conducting interviews. At each polling station, 25 voters were randomly selected for conducting the exit poll. A total of 10,800 voters were interviewed from 72 assembly constituencies in Maharashtra.
Following aspects taken into consideration in the selection of assembly constituencies:
- Constituencies where a party has not lost an election in the past two elections - Constituencies where the winning margin is low - Constituencies which flip-flop election to election - Constituencies that have "heavy weight" candidates
The interviewing process started when the polls open and continued throughout the day until polls closed to ensure better representation of the voters. All interviews were conducted using computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) method.
To overcome prejudice/response bias, election symbols, including party names contesting in selected assembly constituency, were shown on a tablet screen, displayed like ballot box screen. When asking a voting related question, a virtual polling booth scenario was created, wherein we handed over the device (tablet) to respondent to mark the party they had voted for. The questionnaire was translated into Marathi and Hindi, which is mainly spoken in the respondents' state.
A team of about 12 QC executives conducted concurrent quality checks on the interviews before accepting or rejecting the data. Live monitoring, data on real time basis and GPS-enabled devices had also ensured the quality of field work. The Ipsos team had preempted likely on-ground challenges and risk assessment and mitigation strategies were accordingly planned in advance.