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BJP’s Kakade and Thackeray are the new pollsters?

These days no one wants to trust exit polls as they are most of the times paid surveys. During the 2012 Uttarakhand assembly polls various Exit Polls predicted a close fight between the BJP and the Congress party. But few also had a forecast that the BJP would return to power. However, the Congress won the election. The predictions were almost correct as the Congress won with just one seat more than the BJP. The saffron party managed to win 31 seats. Congress won 32 and formed the government in 2012.

In 2015, the BJP hoped another mega win in Bihar after sweeping the general elections 2014. And, setting the stage for celebrations, various Exit Polls gave clear lead to the saffron party. Predicting the results, Chanakya-News24 gave the BJP a tally of 155 in the 243-seat House. NDTV and India Today’s numbers were close to 120 seats for the BJP. When the actual results were announced, the Exit Poll numbers, once again, did not turn out the way it was projected. The BJP suffered a major defeat. Nitish Kumar-led alliance bagged 178 of the 243 Bihar Assembly seats. And, that is probably the reason now many are rejecting the Exit Poll numbers saying the projections in Bihar were wrong. When it comes to Gujarat, it’s not only the opposition but BJP’s own leader and its alliance refused to believe Exit Polls and they declared Congress as the winner in their own survey. As most Exit Poll surveys predicted the Bharatiya Janata Party to win the Gujarat Assembly polls, its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade has claimed that the party would not win enough seats to form the next government in the state. He claimed that the BJP will not even get enough number of seats to form the government. The Congress on the other hand will reach close to the majority mark. Kakade claimed his team has conducted a survey in Gujarat and his claim was based on the outcome of that survey. He seems to have sent a team of six people to Gujarat. They mostly covered the rural parts of the state where they met farmers, drivers, waiters and labourers. Based on their survey and his own observation, he feels the BJP will not get absolute majority in Gujarat. He also pointed out that BJP leaders did not talk about development in any of the campaign rallies in the last phase.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray alleged that the BJP uttered no word on development by the party leaders. There was no mention of employment generation in Gujarat or about any major decision taken by the party during last three years. The rallies were aimed at targeting the opposition and making an emotional appeal to voters. He appeared to disagree with Exit Polls predicting a clear victory for the BJP in Gujarat. There is a big difference between the political atmosphere prevalent in Gujarat and the Exit Poll results. The Exit Polls released after the December 14 voting have given a clear majority for the BJP in the 182-member Gujarat assembly. Almost all exit polls predicted more than 100 seats for the BJP in the state where the party is in power for over two decades. The Sena is part of the BJP-led ruling coalition in Maharashtra as well as at the Centre.

The battle for Gujarat has been fought. And it has certainly not been a cakewalk for either the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Congress. The campaign for the Assembly polls witnessed everything from name calling to personal attacks to sporadic violence. The first controversy surrounding the Gujarat Assembly elections was the delayed announcement of polling dates. The Election Commission broke the convention as it declared the dates for Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls on October 13 but did not declare any dates for polling in Gujarat – notably the counting of both the states are taking place on Monday, December 18, 2017.

In 2002-03, the EC had announced the dates for Gujarat elections on October 28, 2002 while the dates for Himachal Pradesh were announced on January 11, 2003. This difference in announcement of dates had come because of the riots in Gujarat, following which the state Assembly was dissolved prematurely. Apart from this, the EC has always been announcing the dates for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections simultaneously. While the opposition had hit out at the authority for the delayed announcement, the polling authority defended itself saying it was done to avoid an unreasonably long period of model code of conduct in Gujarat.

Both BJP and Congress were aggressive from the inception. And the battle was led from both ends by the major names — Modi and Gandhi. One target of both the parties was the Patidar community, of which some leaders like Hardik Patel have been up in arms against the ruling BJP in the state. There were attempts by both the parties to woo Patidar leaders. The Patidars, however, finally sided with the Congress. But the “tie-up” came only after its share of drama when some of the Patel community members resorted to violence over the first candidates’ list released by the Congress party. A presser by Hardik Patel came later to pacify the PAAS members wherein he openly declared his support to the Congress, attributing the same to a reservation formula given by the opposition party. The stage was thus set for the battle to get angrier. The issue that now came to the fore was religion. One register entry at Somnath temple – still not clear if real or fake – raised questions on the religion of Rahul Gandhi. Paying heed to the attack, the Congress released three pictures showing Rahul performing Hindu rituals. The Gandhi scion himself later told a party meet that his family members are disciples of lord Shiva.

The ruling BJP got another shot in the arm with veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar triggering a row by calling Modi “neech”. The Congress, however, acted swiftly and suspended Aiyar from the party after serving him a showcause notice. Rahul Gandhi also asked Aiyar to offer an apology, and asserted that nothing derogatory must be said about the Prime Minister. Modi himself raised the issue during his rallies, saying it was an insult not to him, but to the Gujarati pride.

Inspite of all the opposition from within the party and outside, as everyone knows if BJP loses Gujarat it’s not BJP but actually Modi and his Gujarat model is going to lose. And it’s a matter of fact that everyone of them wants Modi to lose as it’ll be a big setback for him alone if at all it happens. And it’s a fact that after so many factors like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani, Alpesh Thakor, GST, demonetisation, Congress playing soft Hindutva card and Hindutva phobia at the same time, caste politics being revived, if at all BJP wins even with a thin margin the entire credit goes to one man that’s Modi and he’ll be unstoppable.

However, the opposition got a similar opportunity to target the ruling BJP when Modi claimed in his rally that Pakistan was trying to influence the results in Gujarat Assembly elections. The opposition hit back saying PM Modi was making such statements as he feared defeat. Even Pakistan foreign office issued a statement saying India must not drag it in its political battle. Now, after months of intense political war, altercation of personal attacks, and questions on constitutional authorities, and the fate of the political parties have been locked. The verdict will be out on Monday, let’s see who makes it to the power in Gujarat.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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