There were already two elephants in the room – E for Election Commission and E for EVM. And now there’s the third – the summer to an icecream vendor equivalent ie Exit Polls to TV news channels. Given my marketing and market research credentials, which have more marketing in it than most market research walas and more research creds than most marketing walas, I thought it more timely and prudent to put down my two cents on this whole murky issue of exit polls.
So here goes, bhaiyon and behno.
Let’s go back to the basics. In a country of a billion, even the largest sample of an exit poll is a really small sample with a margin of error wider than the Indian ocean. So what happens here is that immediately after voting (this too is some variable dubious timing) a survey of voters is conducted on a ‘sample’ of voters. There are various methodologies of sampling be it random sampling or systematic sampling but in such a tiny sample it becomes impossible to capture anything accurately unless it is a well defined wave. Now this wave can be either of the anti emergency 1977 kind or of the 1984 death of Indira Gandhi kind. Such waves run so uniformly that exit polls would actually have to try to go wrong. Any lesser wave, like the 2014 one for instance, is beyond the grasp of exit polls. That’s why exit polls went wrong in 2014.
And now this one in 2019, is a tougher cat to bell.
A few more examples.
Take the 2004 elections.
Every exit poll predicted a landslide for the NDA but look what happened. Vajpayee was so confident of victory that after his assembly victories in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, he actually preponed the Lok Sabha elections unlike Modi who waited for the radar obstructing clouds of May. Confident of his nationalist “India Shining” slogan, Vajpayee took great solace in the exit polls that said NDA would get 240 to 250 seats. He poured himself a few extra pegs and recited poetry even in his sleep. But the result was the exact opposite. Yes the exact opposite. NDA got 187 seats and Congress and allies got 216 seats against the predicted 170 seats. To break it up further, the NDTV exit poll then gave NDA 230 to 250 seats and the UPA 190 to 205 seats.
Exit polls continued to blunder along. But significantly in 2014, exit polls gave NDA (not even BJP) 261 to 183 seats and the UPA 110 to 120. But the NDA actually got 336.
Closer now, in 2017, in the UP assembly elections, all exit polls predicted a hung assembly. Yes all of them. But the BJP won over 300 seats. Now here lies the clue to why the polls are showing what they are showing now in UP. Dare any pollster make the same 2017 mistake of UP again. So they are factoring in what may well called factoring the last fuck up. This factoring happens at various levels but fundamentally in methodology and in sampling. But yet again I think the hinterlands of India have been beyond the understanding of city bred market researchers for all kinds of consumer products. And poll researches are far more challenging anyway. Now here again in 2019, UP has 80 seats. So if the exit polls get UP wrong, no way they can get the national number right. Right?
The problem is this. If some stranger asks you who you voted for, you would mostly not answer. Or you would take the name of the party you fear. That my dear countrymen, is the BJP. And if you thought that its only about UP, then think again. Here’s what happened in 2015 Bihar Assembly elections. Most exist polls predicted no clear majority to any alliance. But what happened is that BJP scored a measly 58 seats and the JDU romped home with 178.
But now if you think that UP and Bihar are a different kettle of fish, then consider this. For the Delhi assembly elections most exit polls predicted 26 to 27 seats for the BJP. But what happened? The BJP got 3 miserable seats. And the AAP marched into the assembly with 67.
So here’s a question.
If these very pollsters couldn’t predict the fate of a single city like Delhi, where most of these buggers live, do you really think you should be watching their exit polls about the whole goddamn country.
But here’s a little rider.
Maybe these exit polls are showing the results they are showing to give credence to rigged EVM results? That means if the exit polls can say beforehand what the EVM will say later, then no one will doubt the EVM. Got it?
Or here’s another one.
Are the exit polls and their over zealous media coverage meant to prop up the stock market for the benefit of a few?
Oh hang it. Go to sleep. Let’s wait till 23rd. And then decide, depending on who is in or who is out, whether we want to be good. Or we want to be bad.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dalits and non dalits, Kashmiris and Tamilians, Bengalis and Gujaratis, Thakurs and Banias, men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, farmers and soldiers, teachers and students – hitherto and wholesomely called the Opposition: your time is up
You learnt nothing from even history as recent as 2014.
From examples of your own old fiefdoms, multiregional, multiligual and multicaste, multireligious, you forgot how your 69% mandate was salami sliced such that the largest slice of salami was smaller than an abysmal 31%. And how that despite 69% of India voting Modi out in an election that was centred completely around him, you managed to fragment yourselves into such tiny bits. And then you waited and watched for five years bemoaning the rampant siege on democracy fighting your so called battles in what can easily be called a kangaroo court. And then on the eve of the hustings, you discovered you had two new adversaries to contend with: the EC and SC (there’s something about C’s haven’t we always known in Hindi). And there is one waiting in the wings. The President of India who presides over fractured mandates and uses his discretion to decide who the devil deserves this democracy where voting percentages play second fiddle to horse-trading. You don’t aam admi to remind you that the President at the centre is not very different constitutionally from the Governor in the state. And you also know from your failed attempt at impeaching the last CJI, that impeachment is yet another joke in the Indian constitution, which many of us have been taught to respect despite that even Ambedkar had his reservations about it. And if he did not, then he jolly well should have had his reservations about it. And so dear opposition, you have no constitutional safeguards too. At best you can frame that paper and worship it agarbattis, but let’s admit, it isn’t of any more use than that. Like many other mere symbolisms in Indian democracy, the constitution is another. So now what if, after May 23, the Indian Parliament goes the Goa or Uttarakhand assembly way? What do you plan to do then – I mean together, not in your varied salami slices? Will you take to the streets? For a change? Or will it take the invention of portable Air Conditioners to get you to do that? Tell me, do you appreciate that India is worse than what France was before the French revolution, or even Russia was before the Russian revolution? See the days of Indira Gandhi are long gone – those days when the Youth Congress stood guard in ruffian-for-ruffian style lest the anarchic elements of the RSS take over. The RSS then merely did the dandi dance in muddy shakhas which too were as prevalent as Gujaratis in the Indian army. Because Indira Gandhi’s Congress knew the undercurrents of lawlessness in our cosmetically lawful country. And this at a time when the Supreme Court had both dignity and shame. But now look what’s happened. Only Mamata understands the Youth Congress like counter. And poor Kejriwal has abandoned dharnas after most of colleagues abandoned him. The rise and fall of the AAP is the stuff legends are made of, except that in this case, the expiry date was a matter of months. From the Anna sat down to when Anna stood up and sat down again, Kejriwal’s colleagues did to him, what Modi did to his wife. And then to negotiate with the Congress for Haryana and Punjab is really the symptom of the disease. A disease that afflicts gamblers – they must gamble till they are bankrupt. A disease that has afflicted many of you honorable members of opposition – the many English speaking lawyers and argumentative Indians that make the Congress and the vernacular grotty groupings of regional politics of which your very own Damodardas Modi proved to be a shining example. But many of you havn’t learnt from that. Maywati as PM? Really? Mamata? Kejr – oops let’s stop right here. Now see, while Stalin has the maturity to see the Congress in the centre and himself in Tamil Nadu, the same maturity seems to have bypassed the likes of Kejriwal and Mamta or perhaps even Mayawati for that matter, to whom idea of the third front is as optimistic as Shahrukh Khan now staging a comeback in Dilwale Dulhaniya le jayenge Part 2. Yes, yes I know, the SRK fans reading this must have said ‘Why not!’. Ditto for the Mamata, Kejriwal and Mayawati fans. You see fans and fandom is the last place to go to for objective reasoning. Yet these fans and their adulation is behind the delusional dreams of such leaders – a thorn in the flesh of opposition unity.
So now let’s roll open the mat of reality and look at the spread.
On one side you have Ayodhya and Kedarnath, and the wily Shah whose pop (pet operating procedure) is invariably illegal and downright criminal. From kill the judge to buy the judge, anything goes. And by their side are the guys responsible for conducting free and fair polls. And then lurking behind is a President from the RSS. And if you harbour any notions of taking the help of an army to overthrow a fanatic fascist as bolder countries than ours have done, then remember the army chief too is on that side. Like it or not, I have to say this – even Pakistan has more hope than India. For one they don’t have so many salami slices. Then their army kicks scoundrels out. Ours takes scoundrels in nowadays and even gives them medals for human rights violations of the most brazen and public kinds. But of course when the Pakistan army hands over the throne to another civilian, he too turns out to be a scoundrel too (they are our cousins after all) but wait a minute . . . not any more. Imran Khan is NOT a scoundrel whatever else he may be. For one he talks sense and is mature and intelligent. It helps his degree certificates (Oxford in his case) aren’t invisible. He isn’t a war monger. You have to be an idiot to call him that. And so my dear opposition, the Pakistan example was only given to shove diversionary hyper-patriotism where it belongs. So do us a favour. Just cut the crap on eulogising government bullshit on Pakistan for your own political safety. Say upfront that it’s all balls and not an election issue. Even though the c suckers from media will make sure they cover Pakistan like a neighborhood shrew keeps peeping silly into the neighbor’s keyhole
So please understand dear opposition, we the people of India, those of us who are still banking on you, those of us who want you to flush the BJP back into political toilet their original place of birth: we don’t want any version of Modi as PM whether from Bengal, or from Delhi. Let the hurly burly of state assemblies where legislators hurl slippers and abuses at each other, stay in their respective states for another good reason. The reason being that Mamata doesn’t mean damn thing outside Bengal. And Kejriwal outside some four Lok Sabha seats. And Maywati, well! She would do well to remember that despite her strong-woman claims on the back of caste politics, her own caste gave her a duck in 2014.
So dear opposition, here’s what an aam admi recommends.
Get together before May 23 ask the three errant fault-lines in opposition unity to Shut the fuck up or Get the hell out. And if after 23rd this holy democracy shows every sign of having been desecrated by the EC or SC or any other allied C, or even P for President, then follow the great Judge Gogoi’s advice in those days of his ascension – when he said REVOLUTION and we gave him the thumbs only to realize soon after he took office that men can be deceptive like EVMs.
Okay okay, I know your mouth is dry at the audaciousness of this word REVOLUTION. Because after all isn’t the bulk of our polity a straggle of arm chairs. And of course, you could justifiably argue, that if we had balls like the Russians and the French, we wouldn’t be here in the first place would we! Right O!
Okay then here’s the moderated advice, practical advice that you can do – something that you’ve done in the paste. Recreate the Youth Congress and send the RSS scurrying back into its rat holes. Tell Sonia and Rahul to be real – that in this heat and dust of India, European principles are ineffectual. Tell them we are like an iceberg – the tip that is seen purports to be a beautiful democracy. But inside, shrouded deep within, we harbor the stench of anarchy. Still. Even after seventy long constitutional years, after umpteen Lok Sabha elections. Tell them that let alone Gandhi or Nehru, there is even a TN Seshan who exists today. Tell them Manekshaw was an eons-ago deception. Now there is Arora and Rawat. Remind them that we are one nation only so long as we are united by a common enemy, be it the British earlier, and Pakistan now. Take away a common enemy and we will be fighting even on any pretext, real or imaginary, gods, temples and mosques, or even river water. Tell them we are bigoted, communal, and parochially fucked. And so either we revive the anarchic wing of the political party like Indira Gandhi did. Or else we ger real. And slice the salami right away when it can still be a bloodless affair.
And now dear opposition even your last recourse, just two days before 23rd has dried up. You can’t even pray at Kedarnath. Even the gods have been taken over and they now report to Modi. I’ll tell you what you should pray to. That white machine with buttons of deception. Just pray that like everything else even fraud and fakery can’t be perfect. Pray that despite that partial rigging, this nation gave such a tight slap to its marauder of past years, that you still win. But remember you still have to join hands together.
Best of luck. Be bad. If you don’t want the bad guy to win. You know don’t you, that victory of good over evil belongs to myths only simply because it doesn’t belong anywhere on terra firma.