While exit polls have often proved way off the mark in the recent past, if the numbers on the television screen hold, here are the lessons for the BJP, Congress and other players in the fray
The exit polls of the Assembly elections held in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram are out — as permitted by the Election Commission only after the last vote has been cast. MyNation’s readers must note that the accuracy of exit poll results is no longer a given unlike how they used to be decades ago. Nevertheless, if the numbers hold, what they imply follows.
That a high voter turnout means anti-incumbency is a cliché that often does not work these days. The voter excitement was almost as high five years ago in Madhya Pradesh. The pollster on Times Now echoed MyNation’s finding when he said that, across the state, he did not witness displeasure with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. However, the different zones of the state are not likely to vote on similar lines even though Madhya Pradesh is largely known for voter loyalty. This means that the BJP might retain the government while receiving some rude shocks in constituencies where the MLAs have not performed. At the cost of sounding repetitive, the point that Chouhan could not muster enough courage to deny nominations to 80% of sitting MLAs due to the apprehension of multiple rebellions, must be made again.
Chhattisgarh is more difficult to predict. What is heartening, the voters even in Maoist-infested districts have exercised their franchise in large numbers. This in itself is a certificate that chief minister Raman Singh can boast of. It was dicey for him even in 2013. Ajit Jogi could not have been a greater or lesser spoiler of the Congress’s chances this time. If anything, the JCC is sharing a few seats with the BSP while their alliance has not played a role greater than what Jogi alone did the last time. However, the Congress still has a chance due to the fact that TS Singh Deo has a clean image while some ennui might have set in after the long innings of the BJP in the state regardless of the successful anti-naxal operations.
The BJP’s central leadership had been advised time and again against retaining Vasundhara Raje. But removing her was never a mean task, as her following in Rajasthan is larger than that of the rival Rajput camp once represented by AB Vajpayee-era Union finance minister Jaswant Singh. But these rivals are otherwise strong enough for a sabotage. The popular insinuations in Rajasthani society about Raje cost the BJP dearly in these elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and BJP president Amit Shah’s push, while relegating the chief minister to the background, covered a lot of ground for the incumbent, but the negative image of the incumbent from the Scindia royal family could not be totally undone. What the media has hardly reported is the fact that the RSS swayamsevaks were campaigning in this election in a dispirited state. The Sangh has been working on a mission in Rajasthan: rehabilitating the persecuted Hindus — mostly Bhils — of Pakistan who flee that country under the pretext of attending some festivities. Sources in the Sangh say that even the Ashok Gehlot government had cooperated with them more than the Raje dispensation. The situation for the government was aggravated by the displeasure of the enterprising Marwari community whose greatest grievance was an inspector raj of sorts unleashed upon them by some quixotic bureaucrats.
Telangana was never the BJP’s. Few know that the party had begun building its organisation in undivided Andhra Pradesh even before its BS Yeddyurappa government debuted in neighbouring Karnataka. But the ‘generosity’ of playing second fiddle to the TDP in order to take on a once formidable Congress created a situation like Maharashtra where the BJP used to let Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray call the shots.
But the region would have gone out of bounds for the Congress, too, during the UPA rule at the Centre if not YS Rajasekhara Reddy had pulled off a miracle in undivided Andhra Pradesh. A lot of water has flown down the Godavari ever since; Telangana and a truncated Andhra Pradesh are now chalk and cheese, with the Telugu language as the only commonality they share. YSR’s son Jaganmohan has not been able to overcome the image of a corrupt politician since the accidental death of his father.
And K Chandrasekar Rao has not exhausted the credit points he had scored for leading the movement for a separate Telangana. The TRS therefore holds sway in the northern parts of the state that are separated from the remnant of Andhra Pradesh by miles. As one draws close to the Andhra border, sentiments change. The TDP, vehemently against the formation of Telangana before the division, makes some inroads in this zone, as does the Congress that had carelessly officiated over the bifurcation. But the margin in favour of KCR’s TRS is insurmountable.
Lal Thanhawla has been the big boss of Mizoram for two consecutive terms. A third term for him is but uncertain. The Congress’s last bastion in the Northeast is all set to fall. The MNF, once an ally, is the challenger here and a force to reckon with. Even as the exit polls are giving it more seats than the Congress, a third pole has surfaced in the matriarchal society where men’s alcoholism is a scourge. The ZPM has promised a total prohibition and, with this as its plank, it might well have marred the chances of both the Congress and the MNF in sporadic seats. The BJP’s role here is that of a keen observer that will turn into an interested player once the real results are out. Historically, ruling parties of states in the Northeast other than Assam have allied with the Centre with the expectation that such a coalition helps get favours from the Union government. While the Congress cannot align with the BJP under this formula, the MNF or a coalition of MNF and ZPM can.
Overall, the ranges in the estimates of Times Now-CNX, India Today-Axis My India, Republic TV-Jan ki Baat-CVoter, NewsX/India News-NETA, News 24-Pace Media, ABP News-CSDS, News Nation and Today’s Chanakya are too wide for accuracy and reliability. After all, every surveying agency has interviewed at the most a few thousand people while actual voters are many times that number. The samples chosen for the survey is an art and a skill combined, say psephologists, but a school to impart the training for this job exists nowhere in the country. You must all, therefore, keep your fingers crossed until the Election Commission declares the actual results.
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Last Updated Dec 10, 2018, 1:11 PM IST