They predicted and they stood vindicated! Nine out of nine exit polls on May 19 had predicted an outright victory for the BJP and six of them had projected the party winning more than 300 seats. The pollsters had also projected the UPA's dismal performance in the wake of the rolling BJP juggernaut. And some had forecast that the Opposition alliance will not touch the three-digit mark.
It made the ruling dispensation (BJP and its allies) gung-ho but invited criticism from the Opposition Congress and others who called it were paid for, unreliable, inaccurate and gossip.
While the BJP looks set to cross the 300-mark on its own and the NDA hogging 350 seats, the UPA tally was pegged at 85 seats, as per the trends and results last available.
It was also, perhaps, the first time that the pollsters were unanimous in their projections. All the exit polls gave the BJP a clear mandate and showed the UPA at a distant second.
The India Today-Axis and News 24-Chanakya exit polls have been bang on target.
Most pollsters also correctly forecast the BJP's performance in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — where the Opposition Congress recently won the Assembly polls.
Take the case of Rajasthan. Almost all exit polls predicted a clean sweep for the BJP in the Western State, with some exit polls handing them all 25 seats in the State. The News18-IPSOS exit poll said the BJP is set to get 22 to 23 seats in the desert State, while Today's Chanakya exit poll predicted all 25 seats to fall in BJP's kitty. The latter hit the bull's eye.
Ditto is the case of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah's home state Gujarat, where BJP, as per the India Today-My Axis India Exit Poll, is set to make a complete sweep in the Gujarat Lok Sabha elections possibly winning all 26 seats.
Axis My India was among those who had successfully predicted not only the winning party but also the range of their mandate.
The Congress-led alliance was projected as gaining in Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. And it did. Some pollsters gave Congress a tally as low as 38, less than the 44 it won in 2014. The Congress fared a shade better than 44 but turned true the projections that it would not cross the three-figure mark this time round too.
In the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh with 80 Lok Sabha seats, the pollsters has come up with a mixed bag of results indicating the complexities involved at the ground level. If India Today-Axis gave the BJP-led NDA a maximum of 68 seats and News 24-Today's Chanakya said its tally could even cross the 70-seats mark, then ABP-Nielsen gave NDA as less as 22 Lok Sabha seats and the SP-BSP-RLD alliance a high of 56 seats. As things stand, the Axis and Chanakya estimates were the closest.