Narendra Modi bhakts are absolutely correct in saying “Modi hai to mumkin hai” (everything possible with Modi around). Elections to the Madhya Pradesh assembly were held on November 17, thirteen days ahead of the Telangana elections. During the intervening days, political analysts and even some of the pollsters predicted a clear victory for the Congress. But suddenly after November 30 election to Telangana assembly, the narrative witnessed a major shift. Some exit polls came out with the revelation that BJP would win the MP election with majority.
Predicting the electoral outcome is really a tricky matter, but the sudden realisation that the BJP will trounce the MP election is really surprising. Till a week back of the polling, the state unit of BJP was in a disarray and the factional leaders were busy conspiring defeat of their enemies. Even after the polling concluded on November 17, the BJP leaders were in the slumber as the preliminary information and indications gave a clear mandate to the Congress. Naturally, it is indeed astonishing which factor brought about this enormous change.
Nevertheless the pollsters and political analyst sense a curious design behind this sudden shift. Even the common people look at this new narrative with wide eyes. A perception is making rounds of the political circle that the BJP political ecosystem is testing the phrase “Modi hai to mumkin hai” to alter the electoral narrative.
This is also a design to prove Rahul Gandhi a complete failure, a person having no political insight and vision. If the BJP succeeds in its mission, the path to the 2024 Lok Sabha would become smooth and straight. The BJP ecosystem is already busy with the tested tactics of poaching winning MLAs in Rajasthan. The BJP must win the elections in these two states to re-establish the political credibility of Modi and also send out the message that the campaigns of Rahul and his sister Priyanka have failed to impact the poor at the ground level.
For the poor and lower middle class, ironically, Modi continues to be the ultimate hope. With the media creating hype and projecting the electoral battle in five states, the BJP had become quite alert. It is also surmised that with a pliant Election Commission, the BJP could hope for a reversal of the mandate. It is not unusual. The action of the Election Commission has not been above board.
The alleged postal ballot ‘malpractice’ that took place in Madhya Pradesh just day after the polling has strengthened the suspicion of the people and also the opposition leaders. Usually, the postal ballots are opened on the day the votes are counted. But in MP the postal ballots were taken out from the treasury room and handed over to staffers who were handling it. It is said that Congress had lodged a complaint with the state chief electoral officer seeking action against the Balaghat collector for allegedly taking postal ballots out of the strong room and indulging in malpractice.
However, a state election officer clarified: “The service votes (postal ballots) were being segregated Assembly wise by taking them out from the strong room in the presence of authorized Congress and BJP agents. These were kept in the boxes meant for them.” Nonetheless, taking serious note of the matter, the divisional commissioner suspended nodal officer Himmat Singh for negligence in conducting the process.
The clarification from state Chief Election Officer Anupam Rajan has further complicated the situation. In a statement, he said: “No postal ballot votes were counted in Balaghat. Though a procedural error occurred there about opening the ballot box before time. It was opened before the due date.” Obviously question arises what made the CEO to open the boxes before the due date. Who had ordered to open the boxes? He even said that action was taken following the complaint of Congress party accusing the Balaghat District Election Officer of opening postal ballot votes before the counting day. It obviously implied that the Congress complaint was not wrong and motivated.
This may appear to be an isolated case. But the seriousness of the situation could be gauged from the cautionary word messaged to the state Congress leaders and workers by the state PCC chief Kamal Nath. He even posted a video of postal ballots being opened before counting in Balaghat. He cautioned: “This is a very serious matter. I appeal to the Congress workers to remain vigilant.”
Modi and Amit Shah are practically not much worried of the electoral outcome in the five states. Their worry is of the ideological loss, which will completely demolish their Hindutva narrative. It is worth noting that Shah at the rally in Kolkata on November 29 had assured the Hindus that CAA would be implemented at any cost and no force would deter him. His coming out with this observation at this stage, that too in Bengal, is quite irrelevant in the context of the state. He was trying to send the message to the Hindus across the country. Incidentally, elections to Telangana was scheduled the next day, November 30.
It is a fact that exit polls, while not always accurate predictors, do provide an insight into voting trends. While Congress claims that voters in all the five states have voted for it, but the exit polls paint a picture of mixed results, showcasing tight contests. In Rajasthan, Congress was seen to be sweeping the election is now locked in a close contest with the BJP.
It is not a secret that the exit polls are used to demoralise and confuse the voters. The agencies carrying out the survey could not honestly claim that their agents or enumerators at the spot has really interviewed all the interviewee. They do some clerical drudgery sitting in their office and put it in the public domain as the mood of the people.
A subtle message that these exit polls want to put in the public domain is that the Hindus have not deserted the BJP. So far, the saffron party could win as it has been successful in averting alienation of Hindu voters by conducting its trademark Hindutva campaign. It also aimed at sending the message that the welfare offers of Congress were not a match to Modi’s freebies.
The exit poll projections also aimed to refurbish the image of Modi, which was even questioned by RSS in the editorial of its mouthpiece Organiser. It is also a sort of rebuff to RSS cadres in the state, who had kept away from electioneering. The exit poll results intend to tell them that Modi can achieve anything without any one’s help. Modi had worked hard, with the motto “Modi, not Shivraj” guiding electioneering. After the exit poll predictions became public, the BJP leaders have started claiming it is the victory of Modi. Till November 29, the BJP put out the photo of J P Nadda as the public face. But after the announcement of exit polls, Modi’s photos have one again descended in public.
Meanwhile, Kamal Nath has also come out with his trepidation that the exit polls were designed to create pressure on the officials to influence the counting of votes in Madhya Pradesh. In a video message, he said: “The BJP has lost the election. Some exit polls were designed to mount pressure on the officials by creating a false impression that the BJP was returning to power. It also aims to demoralise the Congress workers before counting. But this conspiracy is not going to fructify. All Congress office bearers, district presidents, in-charges, frontal organisation heads should start working to ensure fair counting. We are all united, waiting for the victory. If you sense any trouble, talk to me directly.”
Not willing to lose a winning game, the Congress leadership has cautioned the officials to refrain from manipulating the counting of votes. The party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “The BJP is relying on this exit poll which triggered doubts in the minds of Channel editors as well. This is because of their evil intent to create pressure on the administration during the counting process. The officers who are willing to manipulate counting will face action after the Congress forms the government. FIRs will be registered against officers who will violate law.” (IPA Service)