Chattisgarh Exit Polls Leave Everyone Guessing

The BJP and intelligence agencies predict a narrow victory for the ruling party, while the Congress projects a victory for itself.

Raipur: In Chhattisgarh, all government work has been at a standstill since the final round of polling on November 20. Naya Raipur or Atal Nagar, as it is now known, bears a forsaken look with an occasional road-side worker watering the flower beds on its shiny new streets.

But Mantralaya at the end of the Ekatma Path – usually buzzing with activity – now resembles an abandoned yard. The only thing that evokes any interest is the mention of the word parivartan. Is it coming? No? Have ‘they’ managed to hack the EVMs? Everyone has a theory. No real answers are possible till December 11.

Results we bring you will paint a picture of who might prevail in Chhattisgarh. Data is not hard to come by in Raipur. There are several expert teams set up by Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi, state BJP and Congress units, local news channels as also intelligence agencies that have been mining for the past two months.

The Wire breaks it down one-by-one based on metadata gathered from all possible sources, coupled, of course, with perceptions.

The BJP

The party used state-of-the-art technology which allowed it to track every constituency for its mood, turnout, caste divisions, issues etc. It provided real-time information to its candidates based on the information it received from the field.

For instance, in Bindranavagarh it received information that other tribal sub-sects were angry over the chief minister attending and praising Mali samaj while campaigning. It immediately mobilised and worked on the rest of them and tried to salvage the situation.

Its system of ground operatives is now sending back reports on how each polling booth may have behaved. It has also held a meeting of its candidates to try and get a sense of how confident they are. Based on that, the following is their best tally:

  1. The state unit estimates that 25 of its sitting MLAs will lose;
  2. It estimates that 20 of the sitting Congress MLAs will also similarly be decimated;
  3. Jogi Congress has damaged eight of its constituencies while it has damaged 17 seats of the Congress;
  4. Sources told The Wire that the BJP has 42 ‘confirmed’ winners and expects another 6 to come through;
  5. It estimates that the Congress has 32 ‘confirmed’ winners and may be able to raise its tally to 39;
  6. Jogi is expected to get three seats along with the BSP and one seat will be won by an independent.
    That makes it BJP – 42, Congress – 32, Jogi – 3, independents – 1 and too close to call – 12

Congress

Out of office for 15 years now, the Congress mounted its best campaign of the past two decades. It is heavily pivoting its chances on the anti-incumbency factor or parivartan – that according to the party is sweeping the state.

In a post-poll meeting called by Rahul Gandhi, the PCC president made sure that all his core supporters were present and presented a picture that must have warmed Gandhi’s heart. No true Congressman believes that the party is going to get less than 50 seats.

Baghel and company assured Gandhi that it will definitely form the government with at least 52 seats and may actually get past 60 if the parivartan wave is as forceful as they think.

  1. The PCC has assured Rahul of 52 seats;
  2. It figures the BJP will be restricted to 32 seats or below;
  3. Jogi Congress will get exactly one seat because “everyone who voted for Jogi has pressed Panja;”
  4. The remaining five seats may actually fall in its kitty according to its own calculations.

Intelligence agencies

Official agencies work on a very limited premise. They have a large network of officers, policemen, assets and Mukhbirs – but none are professionals at gauging popular moods and that is the reason they often fall flat in their reports. There is also the tendency of pleasing the government in power and no one wants to be the bearer of bad news.

Our own sources, which we inadvertently share with the agency sometimes, tell us that the official figure given to the chief minister is 43 for the BJP, 40 for the Congress and 7 for the rest.

Amidst allegations of EVM tampering and constables and mobile tower workers getting caught with laptops inside strong room premises, it is quite clear that the result hangs by a very thin thread. Since the gap between the two main parties has always been very thin – between less than 0.75% to 2% in the past – making any firm prediction becomes fraught with difficulties.

Be that as it may, we can try and break down the results region wise:

  1. Bastar has 12 seats of which eight are currently held by the Congress, four by the BJP. It is likely to remain the same;
  2. North Chhattisgarh, covering the districts of Sarguja, Jashpur, Korea, Surajpur, and Balrampur have 14 constituencies, a majority of which may go the Congress’s way again. Ten for the Congress and four for the BJP;
  3. Of the remaining 64, 12 seats are in the sub-northern belt and mostly comprise of the SC seats. Of these, two may be won by the BSP. Of the remaining ten, the Congress and BJP may split them equally;
  4. Of the 52 seats in the plains – which make or break a government – most are urban or semi-urban seats. The BJP claims to have a superior run here. It hopes to get over 30 here, but it is where the battle is most severe. Durg district for instance has eight seats and four Congress claimants of the chief minister’s chair – Baghel, Ravindra Chaubey, Tamradhwaj Sahu and Arun Vora/Motilal. If there has been no backstabbing, all four are expected to win and so are their four acolytes in the districts. The BJP on the other hand is strong in Raipur and Bilaspur districts.
    The final count may be something like this: BJP – 44, Congress – 42, BSP – 2, Jogi – 1, independents – 1.

The BJP should hope we are correct. The Congress has the right to disagree. Jogi has the right to be annoyed and Dr Vimal Chopda from Mahasamund will be happy to be thought of as the only independent likely to win by all pollsters.

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