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Wrongly Read


The media and psephologists could not quite catch the public mood in the run up to and during the election campaign for the Lok Sabha. In a state like Uttarakhand, for example, the trend was fairly obvious to all because of the social and economic homogeneity it has acquired. In the same context, UP turned out to be a shocker, completely catching by surprise those working out national level permutations and combinations. Was the grassroots level media in the towns and districts of UP unaware of the choices people were likely to make, or was attention not paid to it by the higher echelons? Did the clutter on social media drown out genuine local reportage? Or as is being alleged, were the reporters compromised at every level?

In the case of psephologists, if the exercise was conducted honestly on the ground, the fault obviously was in the statistical modelling. That is not an easy exercise because the caste and community interest groups offer a very complex picture. The results of the 2024 general elections will provide a lot of data in this regard for making predictions in the future. For instance, how did Bihar and UP with similar complexities throw up different results? The results from better-off western UP and aspiring but not so well-off Bihar were similar, but not so in the case of other parts of UP.

Also, did the extravagant giveaways promised by the opposition alliance seduce the voter into making his or her decision? After all, even the most aware woman among the low-income groups would not give up the chance to get Rs 8500 in her bank account every month. Especially if it seemed as though this would happen irrespective of which way the elections went. The women lining up outside the Congress offices at some places are obviously from that category.

How are analysts expected to factor in such freebies promised from the public exchequer into the calculation? Not every section of the population has the smarts like the people of Delhi to vote for different parties in the state and national elections. Will the people of UP be as confused during state elections as they were in those for the Lok Sabha? There were similar complexities in many other states as well, not quite visible at the surface. It is time, perhaps, for a ban on cash-related promises to be banned, particularly for specific groups, by the Judiciary, as politicians will fail to arrive at a consensus? It is not just about electoral victory, but also about the economic consequences that the nation cannot afford.