A poll of exit polls in Himachal Pradesh shows the Bharatiya Janata Party might break the curse of the incumbent being voted out after one term, and win the most seats in the state, just like the last Assembly elections in 2017. It could turn into a close battle between the BJP and the Congress, despite the reported anti-incumbency against the state government, and a leadership crisis in Himachal Pradesh BJP setting the grand old party up for a big expected win.
The Congress, which was the prime challenger last time, hasn't conceded ground to new entrant Aam Aadmi Party, the polls show. AAP is seen by many as attempting to replace Congress as the main opposition party in states.
Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, which is contesting in the hill state for the first time in an attempt to build a pan-India image, would barely make a dent, the polls show.
An aggregate of the six exit polls indicate that the BJP could win 35 seats, the Congress could be at 29, and the AAP would fail to win any. Other parties, and Independent candidates, are predicted to win 4.
Exit polls do not always get it right. The final results will be revealed only on December 8, when counting of votes take place.
A Republic TV P-Marq exit poll gives the BJP 34-39 seats out of 68, the Congress 28-33, and the AAP 0-1.
According to the Times Now-ETG poll, BJP will get 38, Congress at 28, and AAP 0.
A third poll, by News X and Jan Ki Baat, BJP will score 32-40, Congress 27-34, and AAP 0.
Exit polls from Zee News-BARC put BJP ahead at 35-40, Congress at 20-25, and AAP 0-3 seats.
India TV predicts 35-40 seats for the BJP, Congress 26-31, and AAP 0.
The only outlier, Aaj Tak-Axis My India, predicts a tighter contest with BJP possibly bagging fewer seats than the Congress. It predicts 24-34 for BJP, Congress 30-40, and AAP 0.
TV9 Gujarati has put the BJP at 33, Congress at 31, and AAP 0.
In 2017, the BJP had managed to form the government in the hill state on its own with 44 seats, with the Congress getting just 21 seats despite being close in terms of vote share.