Advice to the Congress, which is seeking ban on opinion polls after ‘exposé’ claims such surveys can be fixed: enjoy them, don’t take them seriously. Very few in the electorate do
Shantanu Datta | February 27, 2014
Something is rotten in the state of news TV.
Heaven will direct it.
Nay, let's follow it.
With due apologies to Mr Shakespeare, and Messrs Marcellus and Horatio, it’s not that easy to leave the stage at that point these days. For, news TV would be followed by talk TV, where driving you up the wall is a game they play with amazing grace, finesse and delight. Night after night. And that, dear reader, is certainly not an exclusive opinion.
So, are you influenced by that opinion? Would you get all riled and cross and switch off the box, or hit the remote with the frenzy of a George W out to prove Saddam was a chemical weapon warrior and switch to some other channel? Discover, may be, or Aastha, perhaps?
So why would you think when they go blah blah blah on pre-poll or post-poll, or in-between-the-poll opinion polls and experts tell you with subjectively objective elan that A is leading the game and is likely to move into 7-Race Course Road or its PM-hosting alternative – unless B does equally well and C cuts into votes of D and E without F doing a bit of – that you would be persuaded more to vote for A unless you were born with a finger that would press the button only on B or C or D or E’s party symbol on EVM?
Who persuades you, in such cases? The numbers? You mean the supposed voices like yours and mine, who also presume that others presume A would presumably win? And what makes you assume that a few thousand voices like yours or mine are giving you the right opinion?
So now that News Express channel has stung opinion poll gatherers, purportedly exposing that all those polls that you apparently take as divine truth are, ahem, a sham, the Congress has sought a ban on such polls before the polls.
Why? Simple: because most of them are projecting a ‘wave’ in favour of the BJP and its PM candidate, Narendra Modi.
So, the grand old party concludes, the saffron front is paying the surveying agencies to show them up. Ergo, ban them. While what stops the Congress from shelling out some money from its campaign fund to get some such surveys done – if the party can park Rs 500 crore to do up Rahul Gandhi’s image, it can equally well pay some to the polling agencies – or whether it did so in earlier polls over the years whenever they ‘forecast’ Congress leading the pack are dud questions, one issue that all this does stare at you is the old one about the theme song in this much-discussed ‘dance of democracy’. How gullible is the average Indian voter? A little? Very? Or indecently extreme?
Okay, without getting into the nitty-gritty of gullibility, why would they vote for me, just going by the supposed numerical advantage I have with their fellow followers, if you are offering me more freebies (which the Congress party would certainly not deny)? And if they do, it means they WANT TO vote for me. Not you. Which subsequently means they are not gullible.
It’s like that saying, they are either morons or they are devious. They cannot be devious if they are morons, and cannot be scheming if they are idiot.
So here’s what I suggest: enjoy the opinion polls. Don’t take them seriously. And don’t ban them for entertainment’s sake.
PS: By the way, I was not persuaded to put in words my itch to bitch about opinion polls yesterday since everyone was doing the same.
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