Will pollsters eat crow in Telangana?

The election fever is catching up in Telangana, but the pollsters, slowly but surely, accepting the fact that the elections this time are becoming extremely difficult to predict. This is evident from the varying projections from the C-Voter to the latest India Today TV.

While the C-Voter survey claims that the Congress set to cross the magic figure, the India Today TV predicts it short of half a dozen seats. In my view, both these surveys may go for a six, as the poll date approaches.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to release its list of candidates. On the contrary, though the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) and the Congress released the lists, there is open dissent from those denied tickets, and they are bound to work against the party’s official nominees.

How far that will affect and offset the projections, one has to wait and see.

In that context, none should jump to the conclusion that the ruling BRS lost the race even before it began or the Congress is fast losing its steam due to possible revolt by the ‘ticket deniers’, besides not knowing what is up the sleeves of the BJP, which not so long ago was under the leadership of firebrand MP, Bandi Sajay Kumar, and had emerged as the ‘real’ challenger to an iconic figure like Chief Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).

Having said that, I would like to state that there is no real matching leader to KCR to mesmerize the electorate, who has great faith in him. Added to that, his good work as an administrator of the new state, which witnessed 360 degrees of transformation, especially in the case of irrigation facilities, ensured that the majority of the society indeed benefited from his government’s several welfare schemes.

Yet, there may be a small section of people being unhappy and none can satisfy all and sundry.

In that context, very few may get attracted to the Congress’ so-called six guarantees, which are nothing but the KCR government’s existing schemes enhanced by 100 per cent. The pollsters’ projections are also amazing as to how a popular government can lose 8-10 per cent of its vote share – from 47-48 per cent to 37-38 per cent – when there is no strong wave in favour of any particular party. There may be some dissatisfaction among the people that the welfare schemes have not been paid regularly.

Also, none of the pollsters have a strong and convincing explanation of how the people all of a sudden chose to switch their loyalties to the Congress, which had ruled the undivided Andhra Pradesh and done no justice to the region. Thus far, the pollsters’ projections to me look not only unconvincing but mischievous and unrealistic too.

On the contrary, the BJP might have lost the rhythm it gained under the leadership of Bandi Sajay Kumar, yet cannot be ruled out of giving a fight in some parts of the state where it could make inroads like Mahabubnagar, Medak, Karimnagar and Adilabad, besides Rangareddy district. In a triangular fight in these districts, the ruling party is bound to have an advantage, rather than the Opposition.

This put a question mark on the Congress’ votes. This I say, with some sense of responsibility as Muslims are strongly behind KCR. Added to that is the  possible polarization of Hindu votes, however small, as the BJP had been promising to declare annexation of Hyderabad as the Liberation Day, not by any other day as being called and celebrated by the ruling BRS and the Congress. As if this was not enough, the BJP is also reminding the people of the region the atrocities perpetrated by the Nizam’s private army Razakars. This apart, they had been promising to put an end to the BRS’ ‘appeasement and dynast’ politics.

I am also equally aghast with the pollsters ignoring the significant gains made by the saffron party during the last Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls. None should forget that once it was the forte of the BJP, which used to win 6-8 assembly seats in the city.

The GHMC region now has 24 assembly seats and the pollsters’ dismissal of the BJP putting up a better fight than before is nothing short of being foolhardy. For obvious reasons, they cannot compare the 2014 and 2018 assembly polls with next month’s polls, as the past two witnessed a wave of strong regional sentiments.

Also, once a regional party attained the status of a national one, the average voter, more so with the employees of the many Central government establishments in the state, bound to shift in favour of the latter. Having said that, in the prevailing political environs, none can rule out a hung assembly, and still the ruling BRS enjoys the advantage to emerge as the single largest party and certainly not any other party.