New Delhi: The exit polls are out and they signal that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to emerge as the major victor from the latest round of state assembly elections, too.

Not only do they call Uttar Pradesh, the most important prize in this round of state polls, in favour of the BJP, the exit polls also project the BJP as the winner in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.

The only reversal is in Punjab, where exit polls project that the BJP and its ally, the Akali Dal, are looking at a rout. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in Delhi, is projected to turn in a very strong performance with an outside chance of actually emerging the winner.

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The exit polls were released after the seventh and final phase of voting in Uttar Pradesh and the second phase in Manipur.

The counting of votes in all five states which went to the polls will take place on 11 March.

Track assembly election results 2017

If indeed these results pan out as forecast—exit polls are known to have got it wrong in the past—then Indian politics will witness a benchmark moment. Not only will the baton formally pass to the BJP as the principal pole of Indian politics, but the opposition, particularly the Congress, even though it is forecast to win in Punjab, will have to figure out how to deal with the Narendra Modi phenomenon. The Prime Minister again spearheaded the BJP’s campaign in the state polls.

Implicitly, the exit polls are signalling that demonetization of high-value banknotes ordered by the union government on 8 November, despite causing hardships to sections of the population, had little or no impact on voter preferences.

Track UP election results 2017

“The Modi wave, which the BJP tried to use while campaigning in all these states, is a 2014 phenomenon, thus it should have had a greater impact in terms of BJP’s expansion. Though there is no upward swing in the party’s performance, BJP has definitely consolidated its national presence and has successfully replaced the Congress in national politics," said N. Bhaskara Roa, a Delhi-based political analyst.

On counting day, all eyes will be on UP, where the BJP is, at the least, set to register a massive improvement on its performance in the last assembly polls. It has been out of power in the state since 2003, though in the 16th general election, it won 72 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

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The winning spree of the BJP seems to be continuing in Goa where as per the exit polls, the party, despite internal differences, is slated to retain power. It is also expected to scramble home in Manipur. This is the first time that the party will play a decisive role in Manipur politics, which will boost the BJP in its efforts to expand into the North-East.

On the other hand, if the exit polls hold good, Congress could be staring at another set of defeats in state polls. Since the historic drubbing it received in the 2014 general election, the Congress has failed to win any state poll, although it was the junior partner in an alliance with the Janata Dal (United)-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) that won power in Bihar in 2015.

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“All the state assembly elections that have happened since 2014 have shown regional parties gain significantly and a similar trend is visible in the five states that went to polls. While the Congress has now more or less been reduced to the level of a regional party--with the party only expected to make a mark in Punjab--the BJP has to make itself more assertive to challenge the regional parties," Rao argued.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to miss counting day as she is abroad for medical treatment, Press Trust of India reported.

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