How will I know the election result one day ahead of everybody else in India? Follow me here.
I wanted to share my experience over the course of campaigning in the just concluded polling for the general elections of India. I wanted to do on the ground campaigning to reelect Narendra Modi as Prime Minister this time but due to extreme family circumstances that necessitated me to stay in US, I could not. So, I decided to do the next best thing and contribute my share of Tan, Man, Dhan (body, mind and resource) from afar for the country of my birth. I had exhorted the people to participate just before the first round of polling more than a month ago. I wanted to walk the talk by doing my own bit. I pledged to myself that I’ll contribute a minimum of several hours every day. Because I’m on the US east coast, the only feasible time for calling India are pre-noon hours in US. If I could not do the calling in the morning, I made sure to make up by contributing to the campaign on the social media during the rest of the day.
There are umpteen opinion and exit polls conducted by the media channels. I want to share my own polling. I understand that I do not have representative sample and my polling is not ‘scientific’. It is based on several hundreds of people I talked to mostly in eastern Uttar Pradesh. With the usual disclaimers out of the way, here are the results.
My assumption is that most of the Non-Committed voters were probably planning to vote against BJP but were simply too courteous to tell me. Based on my professional experience working in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the past, I know the dictum ‘Garbage In, Garbage out’. So, I was careful to frame the questions to get positive response. Other than the numbers, here are few of the observations.
1) I started the probe by, “Are you happy with the Government in the last five years?” The answers were mostly ‘No’. When I rejigged the question and replaced the word Government with Modi, the answers were mostly ‘Yes’. In my mind these should have been synonymous but apparently it wasn’t in the mind of voters. It was a revelation for me how much the words matter in the marketing of any product.
2) It is an unfortunate reality of Indian elections that the votes are cast not necessarily on the economic interests, but on identity largely based on social segments. It is not easy to place the social segment a voter belongs to just by their name, but it is relatively easy in case of the Muslim voters. While it is generally assumed that Muslims vote against the BJP, I encountered Muslim voters who wanted me to believe that they would indeed vote for BJP and Modi.
3) I’m aware that telemarketers and call center workers are not treated nicely but in my case most people were happy to receive calls from ‘Amrikka’.
4) They were even happier when I tried my broken Bhojpuri, the local dialect of Hindi that I grew up speaking but had not spoken much in the last thirty years. It improved my Bhojpuri. Well, who says there is no reward for doing good selfless work?
I’m no expert in psephology and know that there are many factors that impact voting percentages and seat projections. The experts are already weighing in and I can’t add much to that.
So how will I know the election result one day ahead of India, it’s because when the first trends appear on the morning of 23rd May, it’ll still be the night of 22nd where I live, a day ahead of the Indian people, a privilege for me being in ‘Amrikka’.