At macro level NDA might have edge, at micro level it is down in the dump


Soroor Ahmed

The sour truth is that both the UPA and NDA are in precarious position and are, at present, not at all prepared for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Instead it seems that the regional satraps belonging to the notional Third, Fourth––or whatever Front––may hold the key.

Survey or no survey, Narendra Modi or no Narendra Modi, the truth is that it is only rump National Democratic Alliance, which is at present existing. It is down from 24 to just four parties––the BJP, Janata Dal (United), Akali Dal and Shiv Sena.

With Janata Dal (United), the first party to give secular legitimacy to the BJP after the demolition of Babri Masjid, on Dec 6, 1992, once again questioning the way Narendra Modi is being projected it is not so easy to win back the trust of the rest 20-odd parties which used to form the NDA between 1998 and 2004.

Reacting to BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s advocacy for Modi as prime ministerial candidate the Janata Dal (United) vspokesman Shivanand Tiwari said “JD(U) will react to whatever official stand BJP takes on the issue. We do not consider Yashwant Sinha’s statement as BJP’s official view.”

The BJP is in the habit of going into the election mode quite early and paying the price heavily. It was observed in 2004 that the party peaked quite early and failed to deliver at the time of election. All the Shining India, Good Governance slogans and media projections fell flat. Similar thing happened in 2009 and that too when the UPA’s very powerful ally, RJD was virtually decimated in Bihar. Yet the Congress made a huge improvement and once again surprised all the pollsters. This happened even when the Gujarat riots of 2002 was not an election issue and even after the Left withdrew support a year earlier in 2008.

It is nobody’s guess that the present survey is a part of an exercise to paper over the crisis within the BJP. But over-using surveys and media may backfire as it did in 2004 and 2009.

The problem with these surveys in India is that they mess up the whole issue. They fail to understand the difference at the macro and micro levels. They are not seeing that the BJP is losing state after state in the recent months, for example, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and is horribly divided in the southern stronghold of Karnataka, which is to go for Assembly election in months to come. Similarly, the BJP is in no way going to benefit from whatever is going wrong with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

These surveyors need to differentiate between the parliamentary system and presidential system and between two party system and multi-party system. Let us take the example of the United States. As per forecast made after the battle-line was drawn––and not 16 months before the election as we are doing now––Barack Obama was repeatedly shown ahead of Mitt Romney. He finally won.

But what about the House of Representatives––the Lower House like our Lok Sabha––election, whcich was also held on November 6, 2012. Not Obama’s Democrat but Romney’s Republican which once again won quite comfortably. And this has repeatedly been happening in the US. 

So it is very easy to project Narendra Modi well ahead, but in parliamentary form of the government, where every constituency and every regional alliance matter all forecast may go haywire any moment.

Take January 22, 2013 election of Israel––a small country with population of one per cent of that of India––which has a multi-party system. Though overall it is the right wing Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-led alliance, which just managed to retain power. But at the micro level everything went topsy-turvy. Believe it Kadima Party, the largest party in the last parliament ended up with just two seats this time in the Knesset of 120. Mind it this is the party which was formed by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in November 2005. 

Surveys as are being done in India are just a sham. That is why it always go wrong. Predicting that Mamata Banerjee would win in West Bengal in 2011, Nitish Kumar in Bihar in 2010 and Narendra Modi in Gujarat in 2012 is no a big deal. Even the Left, RJD and Congress people of the respective states were prepared for the worse. But when there is a cliff-hanger like situation and uncertainty about the result the forecasts, often go wrong. 

The reason is absolutely simple: there is no scope whatsoever in India to make Narendra Modi-Rahul Gandhi, or Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Sonia Gandhi and L K Advani-Sonia Gandhi survey like is being done in the case of Obama and Romney.

Our psephologists need to learn a bit before ending up with eggs all over the face after each results.

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