DailyPost 2808

Exit polls have never generated so much heat and dust in the electoral history of the country, the way it’s doing now. It seems as if there is no counting to come and poll of polls is enough to take you to the parliament. The exit polls bickering extravaganza matches the much bickered electioneering; it is a continuation of it. Does it make any sense in having controversies and claims and the nature of expression even the biggest of the leaders indulge in for something so transitory, which would just evaporate into thin air, at the first sunlight of counting of votes.

That anything can become controversial, inclusive of exit polls, directly means that either the rules of the democratic game has not become clear as yet or that it can be manipulated in the manner one wants and get away with it even without bruises. Maybe we have perfected the art of manipulating democracy way better than running it. Talking about elections, we hardly find any worthwhile regulatory work happening. All the tick marks need to be marked and then the elections are deemed to have happened in a perfect manner. Certified and shut. The hardware is successfully tried and tested but it is sans the software. In this scenario the exit polls gain prominence.

When poll manifestos need not be authenticated for its do-ability, and you can speak anything and get away with it, then what great can you do with the exit polls. Presently, only regulation on exit polls is that it cannot be published before the end of polling of the last phase. But for that it is free for all. No company indulging in exit polls has ever been blacklisted for churning out wrong results over and over again. The business has prospered and continues to become stronger. Today, we have reached such a situation wherein, every channel is duty bound to play exit polls at the end of the last polling day to be in the business of news.

Do we need a special license or permission to indulge in exit polls? Is there any expertise certification and experience required to do this job? What is the level of experience required by the company as mandated by the regulator ? What are accepted survey methodologies do they need to adopt? How can it be ensured to be both scientific and truly representative? We don’t have any answers for any of these and we are not likely to find any in the near future. The anchors and pollsters / psephologists have a field day from the end of polling till the start of counting of votes. If the country has the perseverance to bear with a seven phase polls, the electorate can wait for two more days to know the mandate.

Sanjay Sahay

Have a nice evening.

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