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Friday, May 15, 2009

Management of expectations

There has been considerable bewilderment over the revised CNN-IBN exit poll assessment for Tamil Nadu. Both CNN-IBN and NDTV have predicted a resounding win for the DMK-Congress alliance, even to the tune of 35-4. If true, and read with the predictions for Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Assam, it would suggest that a Congress-led government led by Manmohan Singh is a certainty.

We don't have to wait too long to know whether or not the pollsters are correct or horribly wrong. They have stuck their necks out and, presumably, know what they are doing.

With just 12 hours or so left for the first results, the Congress has created a mood of expectation of its re-election. With the news of Naveen Patnaik's possible neutrality in a confidence vote, the dithering in the Left and rumours of Nitish Kumar's re-think on the NDA, the Congress has fostered the belief that it is on a roll.

As a psychological ploy, this has worked. However, there is a flip side.

Tomorrow morning, the Congress and UPA will be judged not on terms of how it has performed vis a vis 2004 but how it has performed in relation to the exit polls. In short, any marked deviation from its comfortable position in the exit polls is going to become the basis of ascertaining whether it has received an endorsement or has been rejected by the voters.

The BJP and NDA begin tomorrow as complete underdogs. If they perform better, they will seize the moment.

Management of expectations is an integral part of political strategy. The Congress has set for itself very high standards which it must live up to. The alternative is a loss of face.

The Congress has won the exit polls handsomely. Let us observe how it has done in the real polls.


Anonymous said...

I guess our mood is being dictated by the exit polls of a biased media. I'm guessing that the real numbers will be far different from any exit poll.

Either way the NDA needs to create a Deputy PM post tomorrow to be put on offer. Not being a Third front PM vs Deputy PM with NDA - I'd take the latter anyday.


Anonymous said...

Swapan da,

While these channels gave warnings on fear factor in gujarat and hence they could be overestimating bjp and yet ended with eggs, somehow dont consider it in tamil nadu.

the fear factor is huge unbelievable, esp in south tamilnadu, that no sensible person will tell his correct cchoice whther it was exit poll or post poll

Also one needs to ask as to why after Gopalswami termed TN as worst than old bihar during tirumangalam, did not make it multi phase and had it as single phase. Is it the naveen chawla effect,as this was one state everyone was unanimous of upa not doing well.

CNN-IBN reasons as pro ltte wave for this sweep is laughable. every known pro ltte supporter was out on streets campigning against congress, pro ltte website were full of hate for congress to the level it got IB worried, the pro ltte wave must have defeated congress in all 16 consti making a sweep impossible.

the unprecedented high voter turnout, can only mean two things. either admk has swept or tirumangalam model was implemented.

Ajay said...


You made a point about not writing blog posts till results were out, but guess that hand is itching to get some truths out

Aru, commenting on offstumped floated a theory which sounds feasible. CNN-IBN and NDTV are playing for the bosses of Satta market. Create a atmosphere of Congress getting re-elected to influence betters. When results go in complete opposite direction, the Satta bosses make a killing.

The above is the only theory that seems to bring logic to CNN-IBN and NDTVs numbers

robin said...

This psychological warfare is a military strategy and used to almost perfection by the english channels. However the sample size of CNN is 1500 for an electorate of 5 crores. The final result is going to be closer,
TV is going to control the views and if there is a nationalistic TV channel it would have given us comfort.
Having said that I understand you would be more disappointed sitting in studio with other gloating faces tarnishing BJP. I am sure you would put across the issues well

Meek shall inherit the earth said...

A correct assessment! The BJP starts as underdogs. If they get 125, it will be considered a satisfactory performance. Anything above, will be treated as a gain. A slightly better than expected number could then be treated as a massive victory. True, media hype can work both ways.

Meek shall inherit the earth said...

Yogendra Yadav's exit polls are good for a laugh. I remember he forecast congress victories in Gujrat and Karnataka, with the same serious face and high sounding words. He may well be right this time (by chance) but his work lacks credibility.

Anonymous said...

What BJP's own exit polls say about TN? I suspect they didn't bother with exit-polling in TN.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that CNN-IBN also revised NDA tally upwards. I think they changed their UP tally.

Mukkodan said...

Speaking of Prathiba... There's every likelihood of SLP becoming the criteria if BJP is not the SLP, or SLA becoming the criteria if NDA is not SLA, or "First come First serve/Bring 272 letters criteria" if BJP/NDA both have more seats.

Please make sure to shoot down these partisan suggestions, which are very much expected in the TV studios on sat'day no matter what are the numbers

Vinay said...

no matter what anybody says, i am hoping to see Advani as PM and for BJP to get atleast 18 seats in Karnataka...

rone said...

swapn da
tomorrow when bjp guys goes to channels they should ask for public apology from CNNIBN and NDTV.
or should boycot them for a while.

Anonymous said...

Folks here comes the truth. - BJP Worst performance should be 140+, Its allies worst performance 30+. Now My projections/Thinking. - Delhi- 5-2 in favor of BJP, Raj 15-10 in favor of BJP. No way DMK will win in TN. Karnataka - 16, GUJ-18, MP-20, CHATTIS-8, UP-15(wait for surprise),BIHAR-8,UT-2,HP-2,HAR-4,PUN-3, URISAA-2,WB-1,MAH-15,JK-1,JHAR-8,ARUNACHAL & EAST-1,KR-1,TN-1,GOA-1--these are most conservative numbers. My right projections- BJP gets 210+ allies gets 40+..SO NDA forms the gov.~Cheers

Gujarat Gagan said...

I was watching NDTV throughout the election season and everytime I was disapointed seeing total pro-Congress bias. It was like Congress owns NDTV. NDTV Election express was going in constituencies completely on Congress agenda. Pankaj Pachauri, Abhigyan Prakash, Vijay Trivedi, Nagma, Vinod Dua all completely talk Congress and nothing else, before the elections started, during the elections and even after elections.

These people every time when there was something 'non-secular' went to Nitish Kumar to make a psychological pressure on him to leave NDA. NDTV has behaved like political Dalal in this election season. It clearly seems, they desperately want Congress government anyhow.

Today when Nitish Kumar said "Whoever comes to power, Bihar parties should pressure for special status for the state in exchange of support" NDTV took this as Nitish brought a proposal to Congress that he can support if Bihar gets a special status. Ridiculous. I urge all people to first watch Nitish's video on what he said actually.

I think, NDTV is years old company but in this election they have ruined their all goodwill that they earned. NDTV India's Dibang does not declare his surname. He has worked with Italian TV network in past as per his Wiki page. I doubt this whole NDTV, it's owners and workers. They are all working on agenda and they don't feel any shame, don't care for any credibility.

Rambhakt said...

I live in Madras and I was astounded to hear the 'DMK sweep' prediction... As someone said either it is horribly off the mark or its the Thirumangalam effect. We will know in a few hours from now.

Dinesh PC said...


Thank you for making this blog active and lively with your frequent posts.


Anonymous said...

I'm a BJP supporter but I was expecting defeat b'coz BJP has ditched Hindutva so Hindus have no reason to come out and vote for their favorite party. Its time to go back to basics Swapan da. Strategist like u r good for nothing. Sorry for using harsh tone, but I'm just telling u the feelings of millions of Hindus. We want BJP to become fearless, aggressive pro-Hindu party. But alas top brass thinks majority of Hindus have no option except BJP ! This micro-macro management of Hindu votes is gonna cost u this election b'coz these voters r no longer hates Congress so they can go in any direction. Hope after defeat u'll ponder over my thoughts. Forget abt earning more votes we r gonna loose what we had earned till now by the hard work of anonymous workers.

Anonymous said...


Please let me know if there is any news channel which is independent and unbiased in its opinions?

Anonymous said...

I am not telling anything about Exit poll. But out of the three channels, CNN IBN presentation/coverage was very good. They analysed very well. Followed by times now. about NDTV..less said the better.

Mayawati said...

Once again, appeal to all anonymous people here:

Please use the Name/URL option and give yourself a name. Any nickname you like. Thanks!

Hindustani said...

ya swapanda how long bjp would be bullied by the media guys... take the bulls by the horn and show them who is their daddy now...:-)... they should bring out when Advani says about indian he is communist but when MMS says muslims have first right on resources of India he is secular... what kind of secularism is this????

ramana said...

This is a site Election Commission of India is promoting...for live updates


I am VHP supporter and I have only one comment for BJP if you ditch us we can and we will also leave you in election

Know the verity said...

Through mine anonymous posts I'd always predicted big defeat for BJP and today I'm vindicated. U know Swapan da why have we lost ? I know u'll say we r a poor party of cow belt we don't have any presence in A.P, T.N and W.B hence we lost. But actually that is not the case. We don't have presence in these states in 1999 also but still we won. Why ? B'coz at that time we r known as the party of Hindus. Today we don't know what we stand for. This defeat is a straight result of dilution of ideology. Nothing else. Will write more in the evening.

Kannan,Kerala said...

I just found ur blog..awesome..
For every "national event"..I had to search for your article in New Indian Express or pioneer..or wait for providence..ha ha..

I was always fan of yours..
so from now on..I will be stalking ur blog..

Hindu said...

Wow, the exit polls weren't wrong after all. We seem to be set for another generation of Congress dominance now?

Sai said...

Dear Swapan,

I recall that the late 80's, that was when I became politically aware, was a period of great hope. I was among those who seriously believed that the Congress's fortunes were short-lived. BJP was then the underdog, but it had this aura of being the party of the future. I expected to see a BJP-majority government running India some day.

I no longer think so. The BJP _may_ yet return to power in unstable coalitions in the future, but it seems like most of us will not be able to see a BJP-only government in our lifetimes.

The following trends are making this denouement an increasingly likely prospect.

1. Coalitions will continue to rule; the party with the strongest allies will win the election. BJP is on weak wicket here and will remain so.

2. National elections have become local elections.In general, the party in opposition in a state will get the LS vote, except if elections were held in recent past in that state (ie, honeymoon is not yet over). The 5 to 10 percent swing voters, who are changing parties every election regardless of whether it is a local election or LS poll, are going to dictate the outcome. The current alignment of elections in states and at the center are not favorable to the BJP. BJP can only improve its tally at the center at the cost of loss in states. (Ditto applies largely to Congress as well, but it has allies).

3. Hindu population is steadily declining. In multi-cornered polls, 'tactical' minority vote against BJP is going to play an increasingly decisive role in the outcome.

What is the way out?

I think the way out is for BJP to re-create the aura of 80's and 90's -- when it was the 'untested' party and hence had a fresh, clean image. Here's my take on how the party can yet haul itself out of seeming decline:

1. It must shed the hubris of 'having arrived'. It hasn't. It must learn to treat the Vajpayee government as a flash in the pan. Re-acquire the mindset of the late 80's.

2. A total and radical revamp of leadership is in order. Young and even untested people need to take over and see the party through the next two decades. Vajpayee and LKA have overall done a good job, but it is time to acknowledge that a different kind of leader is needed today.

3. Return to grassroots activism, do not be fooled by urban middle-class support.

4. I know this recommendation will be controversial but for whatever is worth: I still contend that the secularism vs communalism debate is humbug. BJP's problem is not that it is 'communal', but that it is not 'communal' enough or 'communal' in the right sort of way. Which takes me to my next point:

5. Hindu orgs like VHP and RSS are also declining. They are declining because they are not able to connect to the younger generation of Hindus. Hindus are still willing to stick their necks out for their political destiny; but emphasis on religiosity is not going to enthuse them. Which takes me to my next point ..

6. Time to acknowledge that the onslaught of Congress's B-team, which is the media, is paying dividends for that party. Yes, Barkha Dutts and Sardesais won, they won the elections for themselves and for their party, let's make no mistake about that. BJP needs to have media outlets that set the agenda, not merely react to the one set by Congress's TV channels and newspapers. Congress media's gameplan has been to put the BJP on the defensive; the plan worked. Tables need to be turned. I don't know how BJP is going to address the issue of having its own friendly channels, but till that happens or if it doesn't happen, it has to go aggressive and take on the media and show open contempt for it. Mince no words, politeness is unnecessary. Just how much more damage can the media really cause to the BJP? It is important to get the point across that the media is essentially a Congress entity.

Thanks for entertaining the rant.

Rajat Dutta said...

What media bluff!!!
Ok here is my take....[1]Modi should be confines to Gujrat, he is a liability on the national scene.[2] Advani should have quit a decade ago.[3]We should start at the grass roots levels in the south and the east.Advani in his greed to be PM, overlooked that. He wanted his own growth at the xpense of the movement.Something Rahul Gandhi grasped and today Congress/NDA had a 100 seat lead because they were in the E,W,S an d N of India. And BJP is only in the W and N.Time to forgo allainces and start grass root work in the entire nation. No shortcuts.[4] Adavani,Rajnath should resign immediately, time to get some young faces.

Anonymous said...

As promised, I did not comment till the election results were out. The anonymous commenter who dubbed my comments as raves and rants must have learnt a lesson. The more you silence the dissenters, the less ready you are to face adversity. If you just wish to get into a cocoon and believe that all is hunky dory with BJP, do so by all means. The reality will reach you some or other time, as it did today - iamfordemocracy

senthil said...

today, the results are out.. and the worst fears became true.. BJP was defeated and congress got around 190 seats..

I believe the verdict is highly manipulated, and i strongly suspect a considerable amount of rigging, whether in tirumangalam style, or a high tech rigging, could have been possible..

Particularly in tamilnadu, most of ADMK's leads were by the margins of 2000 - 5000 votes, while most of the DMK's victories were by 20,000 to 40,000 votes margin..
This is an impossible one, considering the fact that there was strong anti-DMK wave in tamilnadu, and that the fight is atleast 3 front..

Also, on the polling day (May 13) the voting percentage was announced as around 60% but on the next day, it was increased by some 6-7 %.

Anonymous said...

Well, the people of India have spoken and they have rejected both the message and messenager of this campaign. Please advise Mr Advani to do the decent / honorable thing and resign from both leadership and Lok Sabha and let hte new gen take charge and chart the future course - howsoever bumpy it may prove to be. And, the million rupee question is: will the idiots of RSS, VHP, etc learn any lesson from this or raise further the stake in losing gamble?

Kumar Rakesh said...

Hi dada,
I am writing this in the wake of elections results which are a decisive victory for UPA and shameful loss for NDA. I wish you ask your friends in BJP and write in your colounm as well that BJP needs to reinvent itself as centre-right, nationalist body than a religious-right party playing on the fear and insecurity of people.
I have been an admirer of Vajpayee and feel sad for Advani. But the party has to learn its lessons. Space for regional parties is shrinking and BJP will have to take a call if it has to expand itself. Ask them to be inclusive. Don't appease minorities but take them along. Violence should be a complete no-no. See how it has backfired in Orissa. That BJP fringe which makes a monster out of minorities much be shunned.

Anonymous said...

the BJP is leading/won in 117 constituencies and second in 110 so it has a presence in only 227 against the congress lead/win in 205 and second in 144 constituencies, presence in 349..

this election the congress had a better strike rate(58%) hence it won..but BJP with 52% strike rate was a distant second..

on the other hand BJP cant even come close to 200 unless we strike at 85+ percent (political impossibility unless there is a wave like vajpayee wave)

so for the BJP to harbor any hopes for the future it must grow organizationally to new geographical regions..

the folly of this national election was than there was only one pan india national party i.e INC that was contesting…

unless the BJP conquers more ground its gonna remain a humongous regional party and never will be a national party to reckon with…

so this aint the end of right wing nationalism.. we just have to grow more and strike better..

aru said...


I think a good strategy for BJP today is not only to accept the defeat and also make some concrete steps to follow moral politics.

As first step I like the BJP/NDA should publicly vow that it will not bring down this govt for next 2 years. That is we will not bring/support any no confidence motion and also oppose any confidence motion by the govt.

The gains will be many for this approach.
i) Enormous public sympathy and appreciation
ii) This will give congress upper hand with its allies and also it will not poach Nitish
iii) Congress will show his high handness with its allies and earns mistrust from regional parties. Even it may ill treat NCP and NCP may look option with BJP in maharastra in Assembly elections.
iii) with left front demolished secular vs communal debate will gave way to congress vs anti congress over this time and regional parties will move towards BJP
iv) This will force congress to reciprocate in states like Jharkhand.
v) Most importantly BJP has nothing to loose with this approach.

If you think it is serious proposal to be considered you can take liberty of not posting this on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Its over, how many time we will learn from Past? 2004? 2009? Not good.

BJP need some soul searching...

Swpan Da... this is Lesson #1 form 2014

1-- DO NOT project Modi as PM. (I am from Guj, and Hardcore supporter of Modi)

Anonymous said...

I think here is why the BJP lost.

1) You cant win in a fight against people who buy ink by the barrel. The phrase, 'media strategy' is probably followed by '??.. duh..' in the higher circles of that party.

2) You cant be present only in 10 states or so and hope to win a national election. In the Kaangress case, if they loose a few states, they make up for it in others.

3) There were no really big issues galvanizing the hindu vote, ala meenakshipuram conversions, Ram Janmbhoomi dispute, Shah Bano and so on.

4) UP. This is a state that should be the core of the BJP legislative party strength -it speaks the same language as their leaders, they have ground level workers there,... - and its hollow.

5) An over reliance on intellectuals. The Congress played a better ground game in UP while Jaitely and Shouri pontificate. The intellectuals should be deployed in the TV rooms while half way competent folks should be the state level honchos.

Meek shall inherit the earth said...

The BJP has an opportunity to be the ‘Party with a Difference’. The leader of the opposition should be elected, not selected. The british have elections to select their party leaders. Have a decent debate, then allow the lok sabha members to vote and choose.
Two good things will happen. The media/people will focus on the constructive debates & choices. Second, the BJP will move from a system of patronage to genuine party democracy

OneIndia said...

I have a blog post on :

Reinvent the BJP: Does the BJP have a ‘yes we can’ generation?

The url is:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately all advise to a losing party is a lot like married people with unhappy lives telling recently divorced how best to keep their marriages intact. They sound reasonable but miss the essence of the unique situation a person is in. Much of Swapan's prescriptions belong to that category ... and would probably reduce BJP to becoming a B team of Congress with limited appeal. BJP was a creature of Ram Mandir and perceived treatment of Hindus as second class citizens in their own land. None of course held any water with the release of Sachchar report when even Hindus started having sympathy for muslims as a community which has only been used as a votebank.

On the other hand Congress has tried to build a case for being a patriotic party that cares for all Indians - especially poor and weak. Congress used economic growth to spread it around by spending taxes on farmers. BJP's appeal on price rise does not help because high food prices have helped increase farmer incomes . Conversion by Christians is not really an issue as most Christians are seen as a gentle minority and their numbers as % has only declined since independence.

I don't think there is any ready made solution to the decline of BJP as the party is built on non-issues . Its built around a core of frustrated elements that finds difficulty getting admittance into the upper class English speaking elite. They just don't have a formula except creating jealousy of the "other" and get confined into pettiness. A Swapan Dasgupta or Arun Jetley is not enough.

Unless Congress does something really stupid - such as Bofors or Shah Bano kind of minority appeasement - they are destined to rule for the majority of next 30 years.