The exit polls that released their survey results at the end of the final phase of polling in Gujarat on Thursday evening predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was set to retain Gujarat and wrest Himachal Pradesh from the Congress.

The turnout in the second phase, covering 93 seats, which is likely to be revised, was 68.70 per cent, nearly 4 percentage points lower than in the 2012 assembly polls.

In the first phase of the elections on December 9, covering 89 seats, the voter turnout was 66.75 per cent. In the 2012 elections, the overall turnout was 71.32 per cent for all the 182 seats.

The low turnout came as a morale buster for the Congress. The conventional election wisdom associates higher turnouts with anti-incumbency, and a vote against the incumbent government. The counting of votes is on December 18.

While survey agencies differed in their seat projections, nearly all predicted almost 100 or more seats for the BJP, with the party set to extend its 22-year rule in the state. Survey agencies also said the election, in the last phases, was focused on the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and overcame the brewing anti-incumbency against the Vijay Rupani government and dissipated the anger that sections of Gujarati society had felt about specific local issues.

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