TOO CLOSE TO CALL
Hazarding a guess in closely-fought contests
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.