Lok Sabha Election 2024 Results LIVE: After Early Scare Mamata Banerjee Fights Back In Bengal

New Delhi:

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and Bengal’s ruling Trinamool – a member (on-paper) of the Congress-led INDIA opposition bloc, although they are competing as rivals in the state after failed seat-share talks – are neck-and-neck in the race for the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.

At 11 am the Trinamool – rebounding strongly after conceding early leads to its rival – was leading in 27 seats. The BJP was ahead in 15. Note, though, that these are still early figures.

Among the heavyweights, the Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was leading in Bahrampur – one of only two seats the party won in 2019. 

Senior Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee, who is also Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, is holding his Diamond Harbour seat. The party’s Mala Roy is holding the Kolkata Dakshin seat, which is Ms Banerjee’s bastion, and Sudip Bandyopadhyay is holding on to his Kolkata Uttar seat.

The BJP’s Agnimitra Paul is holding her Medinipur seat.

Former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who quite the judiciary and joined the BJP weeks before the election, is leading from the Tamluk constituency.

The Trinamool’s Mahua Moitra – suspended from the Lok Sabha last year – is trailing from Krishnanagar, where the BJP has fielded a member of the local royal family – Amrita Roy – who is leading there.

Bengal is a key battleground in the 2024 Lok Sabha election – one the BJP is hoping to wrest away from Ms Banerjee and the Trinamool. A healthy score in the eastern state will also boost the BJP’s bid to hit its internal target of 370 seats and the overall, much-touted, ‘abki baar, 400 paar‘.

Bengal Lok Sabha Election: Exit Polls

Exit polls gave the BJP an edge over the Trinamool. A poll of exit polls gave the saffron party 23 seats and reduced its rival to 18. The Congress, which got two seats in the 2019 poll, could get only one.

If that result is delivered, it will be a seismic result for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, which has targeted Ms Banerjee and her outfit relentlessly since a thumping loss in the 2021 state election.

On Sunday, after exit poll data was released, Ms Banerjee dismissed the predictions.

READ | What Mamata Said On Exit Polls Showing BJP Ahead In Bengal

She said they were not consistent with the ground reality since they were “manufactured at home” – a jibe at the BJP and the opposition’s multiple claims and warnings of vote manipulation.

“We had seen how the exit polls were conducted in 2016, 2019 and 2021. None of the predictions had turned out to be true,” she told TV9-Bangla. “These exit polls were manufactured at home by some people two months back for the media consumption. They have no value,” she added.

The CPIM, a waning powerhouse in the state that is competing with the Congress as part of the INDIA bloc, also junked the exit poll figures. The party’s central committee member. Sujan Chakraborty, said the data could not be relied upon.

For the BJP, state unit boss Sukunta Majumdar claimed at least 25 seats for his party.

“When I took over as state president two-and-a-half years back, I said we would cross the 25-mark in the Lok Sabha polls West Bengal… but even many in my party did not believe me. Now, not only my party, but the press and people of the state believe we will get more than 25,” he declared.

2024 Lok Sabha Election: What Exit Polls Said

Two of 12 exit pollsters – India Today-Axis My India and India TV-CNX – believe the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could amass as much as 401 seats. A third – News24-Today’s Chanakya – says it will land on the 400-seat mark, and three others – ABP News-C Voter, Jan Ki Baat, and News Nation – give Mr Modi’s election-winning juggernaut a maximum of 383, 392, and 378 seats.

READ | PM Modi Hat-Trick, Powered By South, Bengal, Odisha: Exit Polls

The BJP coalition is not expected to go below 281 in the race to win 272 seats.

The INDIA bloc – seen by many as a ragtag bunch of opposition parties – laughed off the predictions and vowed it will do what it set out to in June last year – defeat Prime Minister Modi and the BJP.

Congress boss Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi have insisted the group will win 295 seats.

The available exit poll data disagrees, although four give the bloc 150+ seats.

READ | Verdict On BJP’s ‘400 Paar’ Today. Can Party Repeat Congress Feat?

TV9 Bharatvarsh-Polstrat, Times Now-ETG, and Republic TV-P Marq say the INDIA group will win 166, 152, and 154 seats, while News Nation and ABP News-C Voter predict hauls between 152 and 182.

India News-D Dynamics and News 24-Today’s Chanakya are far less sanguine, predicting 125 and 107 seats only, while the others believe INDIA will score between 109 and 166 seats.

The BJP is, it therefore seems, well on its way to scoring 370 seats (the internal target), and is closer than many expected to the ‘abki baar, 400 paar’ target that includes its NDA partners’ success.