NEW DELHI : Exit polls published Thursday for five state elections forecast a string of victories for the opposition which would provide momentum to hardline Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi ahead of national polls next year. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by prime ministerial candidate Modi, could sweep four of the five contests in what would be a resounding defeat for the ruling Congress Party, polls showed.

Congress, which has been in power nationally since 2004, is struggling with rampant inflation, a slowing economy, corruption scandals and unprecedented doubts about its leadership, the Gandhi political dynasty.

The five state polls - Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram - were widely seen as a litmus test ahead of national elections which must be held before the end of May.

Pollsters Team Cvoter saw the BJP holding on to power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and defeating Congress in Rajasthan and Delhi, where it would emerge as the biggest party but without a majority.

Another survey by AC Nielsen projected similar results, but gave the BJP a majority in Delhi.

New anti-corruption campaigners the Aam Aadmi (“Common Man”) Party, led by former tax inspector Arvind Kejriwal, was forecast to come third by most pollsters, but one gave it first place with as many as 31 out of 70 seats, pushing the BJP into second place.

Delhi saw a record-breaking 67 percent voter turnout, while turnout in the other four states hit staggering levels of between 70-85 percent. Results for all five states are due on Sunday.