Poll Predictions and the Gift that just Keeps on Giving

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So, after 38 days of Election Campaigning, which started on the 11th of April, 2019, the World’s Largest Election, (and also, the most complex as well as the most expensive), finally came to an end on the 19th of May, 2019.

After 7 stages of voting and the equivalent of 7000 million (7 billion) US Dollars spent on costs in conducting this massive exercise; 900 million eligible voters exercised their franchise in a vast and diverse nation of 1300 million people, in order to place 542 Members of Parliament within the Lower House or Lokh Sabha (Peoples’ House) of the Parliament of the Indian Republic.

By all accounts and observation, the 2019 Indian General Election have been devoid of irregularities and misconduct, both on the part of the voting public and the State Authorities, with the actual mechanism of conducting the entire process; by the Election Commission of India having been both; dignified and above board.

The general mood, however, amongst the voting public seems to have swayed away from the large Pan-Indian offerings of both the BJP and the Congress; with a lean more towards regional parties that emphasise issues within the individual States that make up the Indian Republic. Infact, it has been said that this election “felt like 542 individual campaigns” being contested within the larger context of a vast General Election.

All this leads us to the question of the final composition of the Lokh Sabha, especially the all important subject of which party will head the next government. After all, the people would like to know how the 542 seats are to be filled and whether the candidate that they voted for would be occupying one of those seats within that establishment.

The nation could wait till the actual results are announced on the 23rd of May, 2019; or possibly a few days later if the paper trail of the voting receipts need to be verified; but the political parties need this interim period to position themselves for possible coalition alliances and subsequent jockeying for positions that would have to be entailed. This is where poll predictions can provide an useful guide.

The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, (the ideological fountainhead of the BJP), by their own estimation, (in early April before the Election Campaign had begun), gave the Congress led United Progressive Alliance or UPA 139 seats, the BJP to then take 220 and BJP Allies to return 44 Members; (giving the BJP led National Democratic Alliance, or NDA a total of 264); with all other parties to then come in together with 138. It is shy of the overall majority that the incumbent would need to form a working Government, which means that they would have to seek out smaller parties outside of the NDA to get them over the line.

This poll is optimistic at best as the BJP could perhaps come in with less than 220. The 2014 Election was a campaign of hope and “better days will come”, whereas the electioneering in the 2019 version has been of justifying empty promises, engaging in bombastic gestures and creating an atmosphere of fear amongst the voters of the Republic. It seems that the next Government will be a weak coalition, where the NDA may have to seek parties outside their Alliance in order to create a working majority.

This begs a fundamental question. Which is this. If the mood of the nation seems to have faded away from the incumbent and their rival, the Congress Party; then why is it that the exit poll projections released by the media outlets on the night of the 19th of May, (after polling had ceased), paint the BJP in a halo of righteousness with an unbelievably massive predicted majority? The lead is so astounding, that when the Stock Markets opened on Monday, they saw their largest ever one-day gain in 6 years; with long dated bond prices strengthened to near record levels.

When you then look at who commissioned these polls, you see media outlets which are owned by big business corporations involved in financial tech services, real estate, telecommunications and chemical industries. You also see that these media outlets are partnered with Reuters, and also with other entities that were previously owned by the Murdoch Corporation and that the actual polling was conducted by IPSOS and Nielsen, which are headquartered in France and the United States. In other words, they are all sponsored by the Big Money Boys and ALL are staunchly pro-BJP, who for a fee; will sell you any dream you like.

What is to be gained by sending out a message that the incumbent party has totally “sealed the deal” and that too, after the Election is over and voters can now no longer be influenced at this stage of the game? Well, although you would be correct (as that is the most logical question to ask), what this allows you to do is create chaos and confusion amongst the opposition, who are basically joined together in a rag-tag makeshift alliance. You can offset their post-election plans and get them to expend precious time and energy to rile and rave that the Elections have been stolen, that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been rigged. (This is before even one vote has been counted). You can make them start planning how to challenge the results, perhaps even refuse to accept the results and incite violence on the streets. (Case in point being West Bengal, where I am from, and the Central Government leaving behind 14,000 CRPF policemen in case rioting breaks out). All this during the critical few hours as the results are being finally announced, a time that is essential for horse-trading and assembling a cohesive opposition Alliance quickly, which could be presented in some sort of coherent manner to the President of the Indian Republic, (coincidentally a handpicked BJP nominee) for his approval.

All will be revealed in a few hours but this is a gift that just keeps on giving. The gift of entertainment. To an audience that is totally bereft of any logical or critical thinking.

Supratim Barman, MSc – Queen Mary – University of London. Kolkata, The Republic of India. I live between the two extreme edges of what was the British Empire, in the vast and important cities of Kolkata and London; with the midpoint being where I was born and where I grew up, Bahrain: observing and experiencing events in a time of great change.


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