Thursday, January 19, 2023

Congress has small edge over BJP in Himachal Pradesh

People’s Pulse Post-Poll Survey

With the ruling BJP out to break the character of Himachal Pradesh throwing up cyclical results, the Congress is leaving absolutely nothing to chance to ensure that this state continues to live up to its character and give them a shot to power. Himachal Pradesh since 1985 has never returned a ruling party to power. BJP has campaigned, “rivaaj badlega” (the “rivaaj badlega” tradition would change) and cite the example of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh where the BJP bucked the trend to retain power in this year’s elections. It would be safe to expect them to have Kerala too at the back of their mind where the Communists for the first time retained power after decades of cyclical elections.

According to Peoples Pulse, Post-Poll  survey in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress is likely to get 29-39 seats, the BJP 27-37 seats and others 2-5 seats. The party which began with a lot of hype, the AAP, is likely to end up with 2-5 seats. After its victory in adjacent Punjab, the AAP made a lot of noise in electioneering dominating the Congress, but it will be drawing a blank with a vote share of 2.1 percent. The state has a 68-member Assembly, with a magic figure being 35. There is a strong possibility that Independents would play a key role in government formation. The difference in the vote share between the Congress and the BJP is just 0.4 percent. The Congress will get a vote share of 45.9 percent, the BJP 45.5 percent and others 6.5 percent.

Margin of error 3 per cent

The survey factors a margin of error of + or – (plus or minus) 3 pe cent. The Congress when compared to the 2017 Assembly elections is gaining 4.2 percent, while the BJP is losing 3 percent. To help put this aspect in perspective, particularly in a smaller state even a difference of one per cent vote can make a dramatic difference. In the last Assembly elections, the Congress lost 16 seats because it trailed by one percent of the vote.

5 Of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh, 38 seats are swing seats which mean that voters change their representative every election. There was an undercurrent against the Jairam Thakur government and reflecting the mood for change. However, barring a few constituencies, the contests appeared to be close in almost every seat. It may have been due to low-key campaigning of resource-starved Congress and high-pitched BJP campaign spearheaded by PM Narendra Modi. The highest ever-polling percentage of 76.6 percent usually indicates the mood for change but the presence of large number of rebels in the fray has also led to greater voter mobilization, leading to heavy polling. If the large polling is driven by mood for change, a majority of close contests may go the Congress way. Strong sentiment against the government helps sitting opposition MLAs to overcome anti-incumbency. When asked if the trend of changing the government every five years, 48 per cent of the respondents answered that the trend would continue, while 41 per cent said that the trend would change this time around. When asked if they would give the BJP one more chance, 44 percent of the respondents said they would not, while 48 percent said they would. Regarding the CM choice, the incumbent Mr Jairam Thakur got 24 percent backing as the next CM, 22 percent backed Union minister Mr Anurag Thakur and PCC president Mrs Pratibha Singh had 22 per cent backing her. The major election issues are price rise, unemployment, MSP, Development, Corruption, One Pension Scheme and Other issues. Rebels are messing the BJP’s happiness more than that of the Congress.

Rebels hurt BJP

The rebel factor is hurting the BJP in 14 constituencies while the Congress is facing them in only three. Of the 55 lakh voters, there are 2.7 lakh government employees and they would play a key role. When asked if the OPS demand by government employees would impact the outcome of this election, 53 per cent of the respondents replied in the affirmative. Similarly, 62 percent of the respondents said that youth related issues like unemployment would impact the outcome of the election. Two per cent of the voters are ex-servicemen. 41 per cent of the respondents oppose the process of recruitment for Agniveer. The Congress has focused largely on local issues, while the BJP hit upon its double-engine sarkar, Uniform Civil Code and other national issues. Peoples Pulse conducted a post-poll survey from 15 November to 22 November in 24 Assembly segments selected on the basis of Probability Proportional methodology (PPS). Four Polling Stations selected from each Assembly Segment using the Systematic random Sampling. In each Polling 20-25 randomly selected samples from the Electoral Rolls. A total of 1,920 samples were chosen such that the sample reflects the situation on the ground in terms of caste, religion and age. Gender was given equal representation. The survey consisted of a structured questionnaire, with face-to-face interviews and a secret ballot. The survey was conducted by research scholars of Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. The survey was coordinated by Dr Sunil Kumar, Dr Rohit Kumar and Dr Rakesh Pawar. Peoples Pulse has deployed researchers in all the 68 Assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh to conduct a mood study and assess the voter dispensation towards the two main political parties. This list is attached for your perusal.

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