TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Hazard­ing a guess in closely-fought con­tests

DNA (Delhi) - - OPINION -

Now that vot­ing is over and exit polls have come out for Ch­hat­tis­garh, Mad­hya Pradesh, Te­lan­gana, Ra­jasthan and Mi­zo­ram, it’s time to look at the sit­u­a­tion a lit­tle more ob­jec­tively. Though in­ter­pret­ing vot­ing per­cent­ages can be a fraught af­fair, one is still tempted to make “in­formed” guesses. In Ra­jasthan, a sce­nario is emerg­ing. With voter turnout hav­ing dipped marginally, it can be as­sumed that a cer­tain sec­tion of vot­ers didn’t feel too en­thused to ex­er­cise their elec­toral choice. This sig­ni­fies a fail­ure in booth man­age­ment that the BJP had mas­tered. With its im­pec­ca­ble grass roots net­work, the BJP was ex­pected to draw peo­ple to the polling booths. At this point, it ap­pears that the winds of change may not favour the party. In Mad­hya Pradesh and Ch­hat­tis­garh, the nar­ra­tives are dif­fer­ent from Ra­jasthan. In both states, well-en­trenched in­cum­bent gov­ern­ments are fight­ing anti-in­cum­bency. In MP, the BJP’s top brass was con­fi­dent that Shivraj Singh Chouhan would pull through. All the exit polls have pre­dicted a very close con­test be­tween the BJP and the Congress, un­der­scor­ing a very thin mar­gin of votes de­cid­ing the win­ner at the con­stituency level and a wafer-thin dif­fer­ence in over­all seat tally. Con­sider this: As per the var­i­ous exit polls, the BJP’s seat tally will range be­tween 94 and 130. For the Congress, it’s any­where be­tween 89 and 126. Both par­ties have equal chances of win­ning, as per exit polls. Given how del­i­cately poised the out­come is — in other words, a lack of sta­tis­ti­cal cer­tainty — one will think twice be­fore hazard­ing a guess. As per all the exit polls, even Ch­hat­tis­garh will also wit­ness a close fight, with the BJP get­ting any­thing be­tween 31 and 50 while the Congress set­tling for gains in the range of 35 and 65. A hung as­sem­bly in both states can­not be ruled out al­to­gether. In Te­lan­gana, how­ever, the writ­ing is on the wall, with the in­cum­bent Te­lan­gana Rash­tra Samithi head­ing for a win and the Congress in the sec­ond po­si­tion. It ap­pears that chief min­is­ter K Chan­drashekar Rao’s gam­ble of dis­solv­ing the state as­sem­bly eight months be­fore sched­ule may pay off. How­ever, the voter turn out in these as­sem­bly elec­tions in­di­cate an en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse from the elec­torate. It’s also a val­i­da­tion of our ro­bust demo­cratic tra­di­tions. As the world’s most pop­u­lous democ­racy, In­dia has un­fail­ingly kept her tryst with elec­tions, se­cur­ing its bil­lion-plus pop­u­la­tion’s right to vote. All the states have reg­is­tered around 70 per cent voter turn out, with Mi­zo­ram clock­ing the high­est at 75 per cent. Vot­ers in Nax­alite-dom­i­nated zones in Ch­hat­tis­garh and Te­lan­gana had cast their votes, de­spite risks to their lives. Bar­ring stray cases of vi­o­lence, polls in all the five states were peace­ful. Now all eyes will be fixed on De­cem­ber 11 when ac­tual count­ing hap­pens for the five states.

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