Millennium Post

Suggestive, not definitive

Exit polls have sent the nation into a frenzy. While the political spectrum – largely divided between NDA and others - has divided views with several opposition leaders asserting how the show is not over. And, there is no reason to believe so, anyway. Exit polls are predictive-style ground surveys which give us a picture of what pre-result analysis states. And, similar to opinion polls, they have largely rung the saffron bells. The culmination of the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha election predicts a second term for Modi. Exit polls show that BJP will stumble a little in UP but will retain most of North and West India, and perform considerably in Bengal, where conflicts wreaked havoc during last phase's campaigning. For Congress, it is definitely a better performance than last time out in 2014 when they hit a historic low which rendered the 16th Lok Sabha without a single-largest opposition party. If Congress performs as exit polls suggest, their advances for the post-poll coalition will be instrumental considering the sizeable chunk that the others have been predicted to amass. The only pre-requisite is that NDA should not register a majority – which, again, has not been the case with exit polls in general. While exit polls show a picture, it is important to note that they are, by no convention, reflective of actual results in gross amounts. Exit polls can go wrong and it is not surprising. Global analysis of opinion and exit polls also shows that the outcome can vary. Last week's Australian polls and US Presidential elections in 2016 are cases in point. So the point of exit polls is little understood. They're just like predictions in a sporting world where bets are placed and can go either way depending on the day. The only thing different here in this analogy is that it does not depend on one day but rather seven phases and five years of the term prior to that. But does the five-year term truly support Modi's successive term? Again this question will face a division into two factions with an endless debate. Anticipating result is more convenient than arguing performance. Setback in governance is not something to be easily eclipsed but for masses with national security concerns invoked, and that too against Pakistan, anything is possible. The fact that Defence and India's retaliation to Pulwama were part of election speeches in itself suggests the trend. Modi's persona preceded his party's general manifesto during campaigning almost suggesting a Modi vs others mandate. This is reflective of the US-style Presidential elections. So BJP has to sit tight and hope whatever they claimed comes true – single-party majority to govern this country – and it is the opposition parties' obligation to rush and form agreements so that they can trump BJP. In this context, Naidu's meeting with Rahul and Sonia Gandhi and Mayawati's visit to Delhi hints toward a non-BJP coalition as the only way to oust the saffron party. Exit polls are suggestive but not definitive. They rally on variable sources and apprehensions are that they may even surface to prevent the facilitation of a post-poll coalition agreement which, if materialised, will be handy for those who do not want Modi to succeed. BJP's aim for the magic number in Lok Sabha and their confidence of the same allayed to masses during campaigns might cost them the seat at Raisina Hills. Having pursued Modi-centric electioneering, BJP has, in fact, facilitated the possibilities of a grand coalition with a strong mutual determination to oust BJP. Exit polls do not seem to take into account depth of the matter.

While exit polls have rocked anticipations, it is unclear whether it will be the case as stated. While anticipation is natural, issues that demand to be addressed remain piled up. For the masses, that is something which now will make sense post-May 23 and irrespective of the outcome, they will require attention.

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