All the channels placed the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the third and fourth positions respectively. If the predictions come true, the BSP and the Congress will turn out to be the biggest losers.

It is regime change in Uttar Pradesh, according to exit poll projections released on Saturday by television channels. Although seat estimates varied across the channels, they were unanimous in predicting the departure of the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party. Headlines Today and CNN-IBN predicted an absolute majority for the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh in the 403-member Assembly, while Star News-AC Neilson said the party would be just short of a majority.

In another common feature, all the channels placed the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the third and fourth positions respectively. If the predictions come true, the BSP and the Congress will turn out to be the biggest losers. In 2007, the BSP formed the first majority government in U.P. in 16 years. From that to being placed a distant second to arch-rival SP will be an enormous slide for the party. The Congress had banked heavily on the charisma of Rahul Gandhi, hyping the election as its chance to cross the 100-mark.

Headlines Today gave a seat range of between 195 and 210 to the SP, followed by 88-98 seats to the BSP, 50-56 to the BJP and 38-42 to the Congress and its alliance partner, the Rashtriya Lok Dal. CNN-IBN did not venture into seat projections but guaranteed an absolute majority to the SP, which, the channel said, would secure around 34 per cent, the highest polled by any party since the BJP wave of 1991. Star News-AC Neilson and India TV-C Voter gave more conservative estimates. The former gave the SP 183 seats, followed by the BSP with 83, the BJP 71 and the Congress-RLD 62. The corresponding figures projected by India TV-C Voter were the SP 137-145; the BSP 122-130; the BJP 79-87 and the Congress 39-55.

Congress ahead in 3 States

PTI reports:

The exit polls predict that the Congress will have a clear edge in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur. In Goa, one of the channels has predicted an edge for the BJP over the ruling Congress.

In Goa, India TV-C projected the BJP getting 20 seats, followed by the Congress with 17. Others were shown emerging victorious in three constituencies.

The same team forecast a Congress victory in Punjab (65) followed by the Akali Dal-BJP combine winning 47 and others getting five.

In Uttarakhand, News24-Today's Chanakya gave the Congress an edge with 30 seats and the BJP 28. Others were given 12 seats.

The same team forecast a win for the Congress in Punjab, with the party getting 60 seats, followed by the Akali Dal-BJP combine getting 52. Others were projected to win five seats.

In Manipur, the team forecast a Congress win with 25 seats, followed by the NCP (10 seats) and the Trinamool Congress (9).

“Rahul not to blame”

Talking to journalists on Saturday, AICC general secretary in charge of U.P. Digvijay Singh said Rahul Gandhi should not to be blamed if the Congress did not perform well in the State.

“A leader creates an atmosphere. To convert that atmosphere into votes and seats is the responsibility of candidates and the organisation,” he said.

Both he and party spokesperson Rashid Alvi dismissed the exit polls, some of which placed Congress in the fourth position in the State.

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