If the results of exit polls are to be believed, the BJP led National Democratic Alliance is all set to make a clean sweep. It is, however, interesting to note that the most enthusiastic results have been thrown up by exit polls conducted in association with media houses who are perceived widely as cheerleaders of the Modi regime.
First up is the News 18-IPSOS poll, the results of which say that the NDA is all set for a landslide victory bagging as many as 336 seats with BJP contributing a lion's share of 276! This poll has restricted the UPA's tally to a meager 82. The anchor of the show was seen merrily flying over a CGI globe in a VFX helicopter while the results popped up on screen!
Next up is the Republic-CVoter poll that says that the NDA will get 287 seats while the UPA will be reduced to 128. It gives the Mahagathbandhan 40 seats and others 87. But, interestingly, Republic has another poll with Jan Ki Baat, according to which the NDA will bag between 295-315 seats, while the UPA will win between 122 and 12 seats. The BJP alone is set to score between 254 and 274 seats according to this poll. It is still not clear why they needed to conduct two polls. Not to be outdone by News 18's helicopter, panelists on Republic's show drove into the studio in swanky cars!
Another poll that enthusiastically predicts the return of the Modi regime is the Times Now VMR poll that gives the NDA 306 seats, while says that the UPA could win as many as 132 seats. Cocking a snook at News 18's helicopter and Republic's cars, Times Now roped in a blue CGI Iron Man to do somersaults as results popped up!
The India Today-Axis poll gave BJP and allies a whopping 339-365 seats, while giving the Congress and allies 77-108 seats. The News 24-Chanakya poll is meanwhile predicting a clean sweep for the Modi regime, especially in the heartland with wins in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Delhi. Meanwhile, the News X Neta poll gives the NDA 242 seats while it gives the UPA 162 seats. It gives the SP-BSP-RLD 43 seats while giving others 88 seats.
While almost all polls have written off the Mahagathbandhan, the ABP-Nielen poll is sticking its neck out and predicting a huge victory for the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh, predicting they will win 56 seats! Over all this poll says NDA could win as many as 267 seats, while the UPA will cobble up 127 seats, leaving others with 148 seats.
Meanwhile, TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee has rubbished the exit poll results as gossip, tweeting, "I don’t trust Exit Poll gossip. The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all Opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together."
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha also echoed similar sentiments in his tweet saying,T"he silent voter will be king on May 23 rd 2019. The 'fear factor' playing havoc with respondents to pollsters in an ugly polarized election. Ridiculous #ExitPolls , almost laughable. UPA > NDA when the 'real counting' happens."
History of Getting it Wrong
But given how miserably exit polls have missed the mark in the past, it is best to exercise caution while accepting these results. Also, few journalists today have the grace to apologise like NDTV chief Pronnoy Roy did in November 2015 for getting the Bihar results wrong.
In his brilliant analysis of how and why exit polls get it wrong in The New Indian Express, Shankkar Aiyar writes, "... exit polls can overstate the case of vocal voters and miss the silent vote—and in India, there is an another factor, false responses driven by fear of retribution. Also, a higher turnout can skew assumed weightages, leading to erroneous calls on trajectory and/or tally. In fact, the impact is aggravated when the data is drilled to deliver outcomes at a granular level." He cites examples on 2004 and 2009, when pollsters got the trajectory and tally wrong. Aiyar further explains, "Exit polls also tend to get it right when there is a clear edge for one side at the outset of the election. On the flip side, exit polls can go haywire in close contests and when a thin sample is extrapolated to generate conclusions."
In an age where many a newsroom has dedicated itself to being a mouthpiece of the ruling dispensation, equating in the process all voices and acts of dissent as anti-national, it may be surmised that the declaration of positive results is perhaps their way of keeping their political masters happy and curry whatever last few favours they can till the actual results are declared.