Monday, December 17, 2012

Can we rely on these Exit Polls?

As soon as the polling hours were over, all news channels got in race to telecast the exit poll results of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where the elections have just completed and  counting is to happen on 20th December. The four surveys did not have any significant difference unlike past when each channel used to show the projections as per their political ideology  confusing the viewers.

Psephology, which is used for these exit polls, is a branch of political science which deals with the study and scientific analysis of elections. Therefore, there is a systematic approach and it should be relied with a statistical margin of error.  The reason to raise question is not about doubting the science of psephology  or any efforts to recall failed and misleading projections of past, but it is about the ethical functioning of fourth estate of democracy – Press.

If you read the newspapers of Gujarat published  till 17th December, it looked as if Modi’s defeat is certain. Keshubhai will emerge as kingmaker and  after 22 years some Congress leader will head the state government once again. The exit poll projections do not confirm any of these. Such a radical shift highlights two facts – press is not neutral and does not represent the factual reporting  and second, there was a mass level of paid news publication.

A PTI news  has quoted Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath  saying, "While 444 suspected cases of paid news were reported in Gujarat, notices were sent to 224 of them. In Himachal Pradesh polls, the Commission came across 211 suspected cases of paid news and notices were sent in 190 cases and 91 confirmed cases were reported,"

The election authorities in Gujarat  have identified 126 confirmed cases of paid news during the just-concluded polls, with 61 candidates admitting of have paid for such news in electronic and print media.  Election commission will take some actions in case of the confirmed cases like adding these payments  to the expenditures of the candidates.

The extreme punishment can be disqualification of the candidate like EC gave to Umesh Yadav, MLA from Bisauli assembly constituency, after finding him guilty of getting news published in his favour during 2007 UP polls by paying hefty amount to media outlets.  This punishment was announced on October 20, 2011  when the term was almost over. (fresh election were held in UP from Jan to March 2012). Media which carried  these paid  news escaped the punishment.

A fact- finding team of the Press Council of India has also confirmed about large scale  practice of 'paid news' in the Gujarat elections. PCI chairperson Justice Markandey Katju has accepted that that self regulation by media was proving to be ineffective.

Press is not self regulated to remain honest, but is getting infected by the virus of “easy money” like government servants.  Majority of small papers published in local language are involved in money extortion business.  Their staff approaches for “monetary favour”  and threatens otherwise to tarnish your image. The tone of black mailing can be sensed from the communication.  All the industries who have to carry out public hearing in Gujarat undergo through this experience.

Mr Katju refers to the “freedom of press”,  but the time has  come  when we  should think of making it a healthy press by cleaning these malpractices from media. Such tactics spoil  core culture of the country as society look towards press as “just and honest”.  While EC takes  action against erring candidates, PCI should  take equally strong action against these publication and broadcasting channels. Unless that is done the fourth estate of democracy will continue to decay.

Other  Posts :

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gujarat 2012 : No Issues, It was Narendra Modi versus Ahmed Patel

The Gujarat is all set to close its verdict for next  five years.  High poll turn around has put many political analysts into dilemma whether their words  will stand true or wave for “Let us Vote for….”  Will  sweep them away.

Will These Forecasts Prove True?
During campaigning one thing was sure from both sides – BJP and Congress, that more efforts were localized and less of the national leaders’ campaign.  Congress was very aggressive during early part in making sops and promises which are difficult to achieve and provide – “Ghar nu Ghar”, free laptops   an idea borrowed from SP’s victory from UP. 

Whether Congress under the fear of vote polarization, excepts it or not, Ahmed Patel was the brain behind all the orchestra it played.  This approach has both possibilities; one, muslims and middle class may heavily support Congress; two  it   may  polarize upper caste votes against Congress in central and south Gujarat constituencies and take away many seats from Congress.

From ruling side it had been one man army of Chief Minister Narendrabhai Modi taking everything on his head. He is most hard working politician of the state. To reach to masses he worked from 8 am till 11 pm daily  and travelled across the state to ensure that he  reaches to all constituencies twice before the polling. He used technology to amplify his solo campaign. An entirely  new concept  of 3-D holographic projections covering multiple locations simultaneously was explored to amaze the opponents.  People’s response will be known post 20th December.

Congress leadership in state was unable to resolve their internal fight with high ambitions of Shankarsinh Waghela, Arjun Modhvadia and Bharat Solanki  all trying drag down the other. The result was, Narhari Amin, a strong Patel community leader switched over loyalty to Modi’s camp.   It has  failed to garner the anger of people in Saurashtra and in particular Bhavnagar & Amreli  where people were in anguish against the corruption of ministers like Dilip Sanghani,  Purshottam Solanki etc.
Siddhu :  Helped Keshubhai back in Fray
It not only failed on this account, lacked completely on agenda in dismay to highlight candidature of former state home minister Amit Shah, who is accused of the murder of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a petty criminal, who was killed in a fake encounter  This issue has  raised anti Modi feeling amongst the Kadva Patel community of north Gujarat  who supported Modi in all its fight with Leuva Patel leader Keshubhai.  Sensing the heat – Kadva Patel leader and revenue minister Anandiben  Patel  changed  her seat to Ghatlodia in Ahmedanad from Patan.

In 2007 Modi won 25 of the 32 seats in Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Patan and Gandhinagar districts of north Gujarat.  The Kadva Patel votes are very crucial in these constituencies.  But, this community is upset with the BJP after leaders from their community were convicted in two different cases of 2002 riots. More than 24 people, most of them Kadva Patels, were convicted for killing 42 people, and sentenced to life in prison by a trial court in Gujarat.

The community feels that Modi did not intervene in the proceedings and helped the  way Congress did help its supporters  in  1985 to 1988 communal riots of state.  They feel it was only because of inaction of Modi entire media talks of 2002 and not 1985-88 phase.  This  sense of disenchantment  could change the table,  had  local congress team worked united.

Speeches  of cricketer Navjotsingh Siddhu has  helped Keshubhai to make presence felt  in the poll, who was totally sidelined by the public  despite all national TV anchors’ focus on him. Leuva Patel community after Siddhu’s  comments may remain united behind Keshubhai  and will affect on many seats in Saurashtra and Surat.

Tail ender show of Sonia and Rahul has left no impact on the campaign.  Their speeches were aimless  lacking issues to energise supporters. So was the presence of other national leaders from BJP as well.  They remained only as fillers.  This time campaign had  remained highly localized and fight between two strategists – Modi and Ahmad Patel.  Verdict of people on 20th will decide who was better.

Other Posts : 

Opposition Surrenders to Modi for Gujarat Poll.

Nitish Kumar in top 100 global thinker

Akbar was not that great.