Cassandras and Congressis may sneer at the findings, but the Times Now poll indicated that the Modi government was very much on its way to a second term with 279 seats, even if it is a tad lower than what it bagged in 2014, says Saisuresh Sivaswamy.
The last of the opinion polls
With just one day to go before India kicks off the first phase of polling to elect the 17th Lok Sabha, there is a spate of last-minute opinion polls on our TV screens as channels rush to beat the EC-mandated deadline.
Actually two opinion polls, with Times Now and NewsX telecasting their findings along with a studio debate on the trends and indicators.
Cassandras and Congressis may sneer at the findings, but the Times Now poll indicated that the Modi government was very much on its way to a second term with 279 seats, even if it is a tad lower than what it bagged in 2014.
The UPA was given a respectable 149 seats, and the Third Front/ Mahagathbandhan/ Call-It-What-You-Will scoring 115 seats.
The interesting part, of course, is that the difference between the government’s numbers and the combined Opposition’s (264 seats) is just 15 seats.
Talk of interesting possibilities, indeed!
Tamil Nadu has decided
The rest of India may burst an aorta over who will be the next prime minister but where Tamil Nadu is concerned, it is a no-contest.
And no, it is not who you think.
Puthiya Thalaimurai TV telecast its opinion poll findings and, among the questions posed to the respondents was, who did they want as prime minister, Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi?
The scale of response was something that even Gujarat would not have trotted out for its favourite son.
Tamil Nadu, it seemed, overwhelmingly preferred Rahul Gandhi to Narendra Modi. Some 53.20 per cent of those polled wanted Rahul, while only 22.43 per cent opted for Modi.
While on the subject, our long-time columnist N Sathiya Moorthy explains here why Tamil Nadu has always been cool towards Hindutva, and that the trend may not change any time soon.
TN enamoured of Nehru-Gandhi family
So are the Puthiya Thalaimurai findings surprising? Not really, for Tamil Nadu has always had a soft spot for the Gandhi-Nehru family.
Which is why the state turned its back with such finality on the Tamil Tigers after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on its soil, that even their decimation by the Sri Lankan army didn’t evoke a whimper in the state.
This was why it came as such a surprise that Rahul Gandhi chose Kerala over Tamil Nadu for crossing the Vindhyas. Wayanad may be a Congress citadel, but the whole of Tamil Nadu is in thrall to the family’s charm offensive.
Another interesting finding from the Puthiya Thalaimurai poll is that M K Stalin towers over other leaders in the state, which augurs well for the DMK’s chances in the assembly elections, whenever they are held, either on time in 2021 or any time before that.
This overwhelming preference for Stalin is also reflected in the DMK’s performance in the 40 Lok Sabha seats (including Puducherry). While the Stalin-led front is shown to bag 31-33 seats, the AIADMK-led front is expected to win only 6-8 seats, a far cry from five years ago when Jayalalithaa with her ‘Lady vs Modi’ war cry swept the state.
Not to be outdone, Thanthi TV focussed on the 18 assembly bypolls on which Tamil Nadu’s attention is focused more than on the parliamentary elections, as it could make or break the government of Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.
Conventional wisdom has it that the AIADMK rebel T T V Dinakaran, leading his party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam with the election symbol of gift box (seriously, no jokes), will reprise his performance in the RK Nagar bypoll of a year ago when he trounced the AIADMK. But from what I could make out from the Thanthi TV poll, his influence is going to be marginal in these 18 seats where it is a direct fight between the two Dravidian majors.
Jaya Plus, which seems to remain under the control of the AIADMK rebels now grouped under the AMMK, showed TTV on the campaign trail, and what I saw of him didn’t evoke much confidence in his abilities to capture the people’s imagination.
Tamil Nadu’s polity has always been dominated by those with the gift of oratory, and while the younger generation that has been thrust into the forefront may not match their elders, they are definitely on a learning curve. M K Stalin, for instance, is a far better speaker now than he was two years ago. But Dinakaran…
And strangely, he was attacking not the state government, with who he has a running feud, but the central government. Did Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah express condolences to the families of those who were killed in police firing at Sterlite? So how can they come to ask for your votes, he wanted to know.
A few more such meetings and the Thanthi TV polls findings could well come true!
Fallen off the map?
Sikkim is among the states where the electoral process will be completed in the first phase, April 11, itself, with its lone Lok Sabha seat and 32 assembly seats going to the polls.
Of the latter, the 32-Sangha assembly seat can be likened to Schrodinger’s cat; it exists and it doesn’t.
It exists, in the sense elections are held to the seat, but it also doesn’t exist in that it cannot be seen on the map of Sikkim, it doesn’t have any geographical boundaries.
The 32-Sangha assembly constituency is a notional one, and is reserved for the Sangha, or the monastic community. Its constituents are the monks registered with the 51 monasteries in the state who alone can contest from and cast votes in the constituency, reports The Hindu (external link).
From a non-existent constituency to a constituency where some voters cast their votes in two states.
Some 2,960 voters of Mukadamguda and 13 other villages in Jiwati taluka, in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur which goes to polls on April 11, will also cast their vote in Kumaram Bheem Asifabad district in Telangana.
That’s because these 14 villages are part of disputed territory that’s included in the official map of Telangana.
But this time the KCR government is determined to end the double voting and voters have been told they are free to cast their votes in either of the states, not in both, reports the Indian Express (external link).
Who put the NYAY campaign together?
If you think the Congress’s ‘Ab Hoga Nyay’ campaign is catchy and has gained traction, credit for it should go to Nikhil Alva, the 48-year-old son of Congress leader Margaret Alva, who reportedly put together the campaign (external link) in 10 days flat.
This was not the Congress’s original campaign, and the party had got one ready to roll out, but the Pulwama terror attack on the CRPF convoy, and the nationalistic fervour it aroused, forced the Congress deepfreeze its plans and work on an alternative that resonated better with the new mood of the nation.
After lying low for some time, on March 28, Congress president Rahul Gandhi formed a 3-member subcommittee of Priyanka Gandhi, Alva and Sam Pitroda, tasking them with delivering a publicity campaign around NYAY, Rahul’s minimum income guarantee scheme the poor, in 10 days.
Alva, who runs the TV software firm Miditech, then roped in film director Nikhil Advani, lyricist Javed Akhtar and Anuja Chauhan (Alva’s sister-in-law, incidentally; she was the executive creative director at JWT before she quit to turn full-time author) for the creatives.
The rest, as they say, is his story.