- Poll of Polls predict 26 seats for Trinamool, more than a dozen for BJP
- Mamata Banerjee dismissed prediction, said "don't trust exit poll gossip"
- In 2014, the BJP had won just two seats in West Bengal
Despite Mamata Banerjee's spirited fight, the BJP is expected to win more than a dozen of the state's 42 seats, says the poll of polls, an aggregate of exit polls. The Chief Minister dismissed the predictions, saying: "I don't trust Exit Poll gossip."
The poll of poll predicts that Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool will win 26 seats and the Congress will get 2. The Left gets none.
"The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs (Electronic Voting Machine) through this gossip. I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together," the Chief Minister posted.
Responding to the exit poll figures, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said they will exceed the party's target of 23 seats handsomely. "We have been targeting more than 50 per cent of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. One of the exit poll (AC Nielsen) have suggested we could get 16 and the TMC 24. Final verdict will give the opposite to this exit poll. We will exceed our target of minimum 23 seats handsomely," news agency IANS quoted Mr Ghosh as saying.
In 2014, the BJP had won just two seats in the state. Since then, the party has campaigned hard to make inroads into what appeared to be an unbreachable fortress of the Trinamool.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah addressed the maximum number of rallies in Bengal and voting here was the most violent, with street clashes between Trinamool and BJP workers in every round of voting.
Over the past two years, the BJP's efforts on the ground saw multiple confrontations with the state government, especially over rallies and marches held on religious events, and chants of "Jai Shri Ram" competing with the traditional "Ma Durga".
If the poll of polls has predicted accurately, the BJP is expected to dial up its campaign to take Bengal in the 2021 assembly polls.
For Mamata Banerjee, it will be a lone battle; the only two other parties in Bengal, the Congress and the Left, have almost negligible presence in the state.
The Trinamool chief is accused by her critics of inviting trouble with her minority appeasement policies and with her poor control over unruly elements in her party, who were accused of poll violence and rigging.