A disclaimer to begin with. I am neither a journalist nor a psephologist. Just an armchair Social Media user who tries to keep himself updated from various sources about the goings on in our country.
While the results of the recent assembly elections made me very happy, it was amusing to see – and I am being very charitable with the word amusing – our veteran journalists and psephologists bite the dust. It is apparent that the political parties opposing NDA had lost it in them to give a good fight long ago. It is now also apparent that the senior journalists who are supposed to give an objective assessment have lost their objectivity or their ability to see things as they are.
Many things are said prior to elections and one can discount those utterances whether by politicians or journalists (embedded or otherwise). What is said post results provides us the clue to what they were actually thinking. It is hard for them to digest the defeat and they come up with various theories for their failures. An attempt is made to list them.
INSULTING THE VOTERS
Blaming the EVMs has lost traction. Especially with AAP sweeping Punjab. So the next best thing is to blame the people who press the button. The Voter.
The total population in the fives states that went to the polls is about 290 million. That is equal to the population of the following countries put together: Germany, UK, France, Italy & Belgium. Now imagine us calling the people of all these five countries as stupid just because they did not choose their leaders as per our liking.
The Indian voter punished the authoritarian Indira Gandhi in 1977. But when they found the two PMs succeeding her (Morarji Desai & Charan Singh – both ex Congressmen) to be inefficient administrators, they gave Indira Gandhi a second chance in 1980.
In Punjab, they were sick and tired of the GOP as well as the Badal owned SAD. They gave an overwhelming majority to AAP in the hope of a change for the better. What holds for AAP in future, only time and the Punjab voter will tell.
The voters in Tamil Nadu have their own method. They vote the two major parties to power alternately so that no one takes them for granted.
As I was writing this piece, I saw this gem from Jaya Bachchan
Don’t know who brought them to power?
If this is not insulting the voter, what is it?
I suppose she was literally translating from Hindi “pata nahi kahan kahan se ajate hain yeh vote dalne wale”
BANKING ON FAKE PROTESTS
One alleged psephologist/farmer/social worker has admitted that the farmers’ protests had nothing to do with farmers but it was preparation of the pitch where the ruling dispensation would find it difficult to protect their wickets. He claimed his personal moral victory on the ground that there was absolutely zero opposition in UP prior to the protests and whatever resistance was there in the elections was thanks to his brainwave. A candid admission while trying to pat himself on the back but the question is what did we hear from the other alleged journalists prior to the results? That the people were totally unhappy with Yogi and he would be decimated. We were all both disappointed and surprised when the PM withdrew the (non-existent since they were not officially implemented) Farm Laws. It was only later we realized that the PM bowled a googly and the curator was beaten at his own game. Shows how disconnected the grounds man was from ground reality.
As per alleged senior journalists (Saba Naqvi, Shekhar Gupta et al) BJP was to be routed in Western UP in general and Lakhimpuri Kheri in particular because of the farmers’ incident. As things turned out, BJP won all the 8 seats in Lakhimpur Kheri.
We are now informed that 85% of the farmers (and 61 out of 73 farmers’ unions) were in favour of the Farm Laws. This report has the seal of Supreme Court appointed Committee. So were the Senior Journalists unaware of the facts or were they sinisterly and purposely participating in the disruption of administration?
FAILURE TO DECODE THE VOTERS’ MIND
After the 2019 results, Shekhar Gupta, in his Cut the Clutter, said he actually went looking for failures in the Modi Government’s schemes. He went inside the homes of the poor to see if they really had a gas cylinder, toilet, water etc. And they were all there. So what happened this time?
They failed to notice the large number of burqa clad women in the crowds in the election rallies. The Post Truth is that one woman who confessed to her family that she voted for the BJP has been driven out of her home.
With such extreme consequences in the offing, it is likely that many like her have not confessed. A refusal to accept this phenomenon has made both the political parties and the so called journalists believe that the wind was blowing their way.
THE SO-CALLED PANDEMIC MISHANDLING
I do not want to go into a detailed discussion on whether the Pandemic was handled the way it should have been or not as that is not the intent of this column. But the perception in the people’s minds is relevant to the election outcome.
The opposition parties with the assistance of the alleged journalists tried painting the most negative picture ever of the so called mishandling by the Central and State Governments (with special emphasis on UP Govt). All the deficiencies in the health infrastructure – it is to be noted that the most developed countries were not able to cope with the crisis despite their great infrastructure – were a result of the misrule of the Yogi government for three years.
Barkha Dutt writes a book ‘Humans of Covid’ and her friend and partner in crime Sadanand Dhume (remember how the two of them, sorry three of them, went on a bike in Lucknow in 2017 and concluded that BJP could never win in UP) writes a review of the book in Wall Street Journal with the headline: “How Covid bungling can win you an election”. I have followed many journalists over the past four decades. Some of them were brave, some meek, some good, some terrible. I am seeing a new breed only now. The arrogant journalist. Their arrogance makes them believe their readers are stupid.
Statistics were pulled out about rising unemployment, inflation etc. But the people had a different opinion and were not hesitant to show it while pressing the EVM button.
It was similar to what happened in 2019 with respect to Demonitization. The experts were hoping that the people suffered a lot and hence would throw out the ruling party. In the end it turned out that the people who actually stood in line for hours in ATM queues were not upset with the government. It was the people sitting in their comfortable cabins who never go to an ATM that suffered more for obvious reasons.
As if the analysis after the results was not bad enough, the roadmap for future elections is even worse.
One of the senior most editors of the country, Shekhar Gupta, does not talk of how opposition parties should raise issues pertaining to economy and development to counter the ruling party. He wants the people to be divided on regional and language lines. In Shekhar Gupta’s own words:
“…….best of all, have a regional, ethnic and linguistic fortress so strong that the Hindus vote primarily as Tamils or Malayalis or Telugus.”
Nationalism is bad but Regionalism is kosher. If the political parties heed his advice and go along that path, one can say Modi has won the match even before the toss.