Begin typing your search...

Understanding ground realities the key for politicians, pollsters to gauge public mood

National-level exit polls, which went horribly wrong, shocked the stock market investors; however, all our predictions were closer to reality!

Understanding ground realities the key for politicians, pollsters to gauge public mood

I have written this several times in my columns. I am reiterating it, yet again. Indian voters are mature and very smart. They know what they want. Money and muscle power won’t influence their choice when it comes to voting. These factors may have some impact when there is a see-saw battle, but such instances are few and far in between, and are confined to a few seats. Otherwise, voters are largely making mature decisions.

The just-concluded General Elections proved this once again as ruling dispensations bit the dust in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha while the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered reversals in some key pockets, thus falling short of its own majority in the Lower House. In the small northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, ruling parties retained power.

However, exit polls or post-poll surveys, which were out on June 1, went horribly wrong when it came to the national results, though they did relatively well while forecasting trends for the Assembly elections. Post-poll surveys, including exit polls, predicted a massive victory for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the national level with a couple of them pegging its tally at over 400 seats, an ambitious target set by Modi at the beginning of the poll season. Many polls forecast that BJP’s tally would be in excess of 300 seats.

Believing these exit poll results as they were closer to reality in 2014 and 2019, stock market investors turned into unbridled bulls and lapped up stocks on June 3, thereby taking key stock indices of Sensex and Nifty to record highs. Consequently, investors became richer by Rs. 12.48 lakh crore.

But things turned topsy-turvy the next day when the actual results were out and the BJP belied all expectations and projections. Sensex and Nifty tanked a whopping six per cent, evaporating a staggering investor wealth of Rs. 30.60 lakh crore, more than two times of what the market gained a day before. That was a huge shock for the investors, primarily because of the hype created by the failed exit polls. Of course, markets recovered fast post the results and reached record levels again. But there should be some reality check on this issue. There is no doubt about it.

However, all our poll predictions at Bizz Buzz came closer to reality. After my travels in UP and parts of Delhi, I wrote in this column on May 27 on the bright chances of Modi becoming the Prime Minister for a third consecutive term despite anger against his dispensation over lack of jobs and rising prices. That’s what has happened now though BJP has fallen short of the halfway mark of 272 seats. Our forecast was closer than those made by many expensive pre-poll and post-poll surveys, which boomeranged on them.

On April 16, I wrote about the rising stakes of BJP in Telangana. Till then, BJP was not expected by many to gain seats in Telangana. Congress was in pole position in all narratives, with some pegging its tally in double digits. But our story changed this narrative. BJP was close to reaching double digit at one stage, but Congress succeeded in restricting its tally to eight. Thus, BJP and Congress shared honours in Telangana, bagging eight Lok Sabha seats apiece.

On May 30, I wrote about YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, sitting AP Chief Minister and YSR Congress Party president, losing big in Andhra Pradesh and YSRCP’s tally slipping to below 50 seats. We were the only mainstream media outlet that predicted a big loss for Jagan. Our forecast came true. Of course, the YSRCP saw its tally plummet to 11, leading to a massive win for BJP-led NDA of which Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Jana Sena Party (JSP) are partners in that State.

That way, all our predictions related to the 2024 General Elections came true. That's what happens when one doesn’t lose touch with ground realities! So, it is essential for politicians and pollsters to keep their ears to the ground. That can help them in gauging the public mood in its right perspective.

Meanwhile, let’s focus on the exact polls now. The poll results showed that there were no visible countrywide strong trends except the Modi factor. Though there has been some disappointment with the Modi government over lack of jobs and ever rising prices, it has not tilted the scales in the Opposition’s favour in many States.

Nationwide, wherever the Modi factor was stronger than negatives against the BJP, the saffron party made a clean sweep or notched up the biggest junk of seats. That’s what has happened in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, among others.

The severe anti-incumbency against Biju Janata Dal (BJD) helped the BJP in Odisha. In Andhra Pradesh, the peoples' seething anger against Jagan of YSRCP put NDA in pole position. In Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for a lion’s share of 80 Lok Sabha seats, severe anti-incumbency against local BJP leaders and candidates did the saffron party in. Its tally fell to 33 from 62. The shift in Bahujan Samaj Party’s vote bank towards Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance is also another main reason. In States like Haryana and Punjab, farmers’ anger cost BJP dearly. So, BJP’s losses in UP and other States could mainly be attributed to local factors. Of course, there is a lot of time on hand to discuss threadbare what went wrong with and right for major political parties in the recent elections.

Anyway, despite losses and setbacks, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 240 seats, just 32 seats short of a simple majority, and formed the government at the Centre with support of its NDA allies.

That way, Modi equaled the record set by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister, by becoming the PM for the third consecutive time. That’s a rare feat indeed. But will he adjust to the changed political dynamics in the country, steer a coalition government effectively and remain in power for the next five years, a la PV Narasimha Rao? Only time will tell.

P Madhusudhan Reddy
Next Story
Share it