Saturday, December 5, 2020

Bihar Exit Poll: Gathbandhan Has Slight Edge

BIHAR EXIT POLL – 2020

PARTY – SEATS RJD 85 – 95,  BJP 65 – 75,  JD(U) 25 – 35,  CONGRESS 15 – 20.  LEFT PARTIES 03 – 05, CPI (ML), CPI, CPI (M) LJP 03 – 05, GDSF and Independents 05 – 13,

Margin of error – Plus or Minus Three per cent

CHIEF MINISTER’S CHOICE: Tejashwi Yadav 36%, Nitish Kumar 34%, Sushil Kumar Modi 11%, Chirag Pashwan 6%, Nityanand Rai 5%, Giriraj Singh 3%, Jitin Ram Manjhi 2%, Mukesh Sahani 2%, Kanhaiya Kumar 1%,

MAIN ELECTION ISSUE PERCENTAGE: Unemployment 31%, Price rise 28%, Migration 19%, Floods 12%, MSP 9%, Other issues 1% .

(By special correspondent)

The Gathbandhan (Grand Alliance) has a slight edge over the NDA in the Bihar elections where the campaign made a decisive impact on the outcome. Being the first Indian state to go to polls in the post-pandemic context, the electoral outcome in Bihar is expected to indicate the shifts, if any, in the political aspirations of the people. As expected, the electoral campaign has been dominated by the material issues around development, welfare, economic justice and most significantly around the issue of jobs and employment.

GA may get even more seats if the undercurrent is stronger

In an Exit poll conducted by PEOPLES PULSE, a Hyderabad based research organisation in association with POLITICAL STRATEGY GROUP (PSG), the RJD would get 85-95 seats, the BJP 65-75, JD(U) 25-35, Congress 15-20, LJP 3-5, Left parties 3-5 seats and GDSF & Independents 5-13. If the undercurrent is stronger, the Grand Alliance would get a further number of seats. For any survey, the margin of error is plus or minus three percent.

Slight edge

In all major parameters, the Grand Alliance had a slight edge. Further, our Exit poll showed that most of the winners would find themselves past the post with pretty thin margin. The Exit poll was conducted by Peoples Pulse and the Political Strategy Group (PSG) in 61 Assembly Constituencies and in 305 polling stations about 25% of the total Bihar Assembly Constituencies. The poll gave equal representation to gender and all communities and castes were represented on the basis of the Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) method so that their presence on the ground is fully reflected.

Also Read: Onus on RJD to win, not BJP-JDU to lose

Tejashwi has a lead over Nitish Kumar

As far as the choice for chief minister is concerned  Tejashwi Yadav led by two per cent over the incumbent  Nitish Kumar. When asked whom they prefer to be the next Chief Minister,  TejashwiYadav emerged with 36%, Mr. Nitish Kumar with 34%. When asked about the biggest election issue, voters responded that Unemployment (31%), Price rise (28%), migration(19%), floods (12%), MSP (9%) and other issues (1%).  Nitish Kumar performed poorly in matters of perception due to several reasons, the most topical being the migrants’ issue during the lockdown. One of the central parameters to capture the voters’ imagination is to build a dominant election narrative. Here the campaign changed equations altogether.

Focused, positive campaign by Tejashwi

Tejashwi Yadav mounted a focused and engaging campaign by sticking to issues and being positive. The NDA campaign was more about ‘Jungle Raj’, which did not resonate with the voters. RJD chief  Tejashwi Yadav ran an energetic and high decibel campaign. The focus of the NDA was particularly lost on the first time voters, about a quarter of the electorate, who could not connect with ‘Jungle Raj’. Further Tejashwi Yadav stayed focused on the promise of 10 lakh jobs, which totally found a connect with this section and the youth. At a time, when people sufferings lie in the moment, referring the past ‘Jungle Raj’ that too one that existed 15 years ago, did not have many takers.  

Tactical mistake by NDA

Further, targeting  Tejashwi Yadav and placing him in the same league with  Lalu Prasad Yadav appears to be a tactical mistake by the NDA. Further,  Chirag Paswan played the spoiler for the JD(U) as he chipped away significantly at the JD(U) vote bank and helped the Grand Allaince. These apart both the groupings were burdened by their own allies. The BJP would discover that they were encumbered by the JD(U). Similarly, the Congress and the Left were a burden on the RJD. An election which seemed almost settled in the favour of NDA until a month ago even by a significant section of electorates and the pollsters’ predictions, turned out to be quite close and complex.

Split in NDA core base

While the old support base of RJD, Muslims and Yadavs, remained stable and united, the NDA core base witnessed a split across the state, leaving the electoral fate of candidates in majority of the seats hanging in balance as Independents and rebels emerged as an important factor.  The demographic profile of the electorates in different sub-regions which underwent polling in three phases indicate the relative position of the NDA and the Gathbandhan. Herein, in the first phase, the areas, primarily Magadh and Bhojpur regions, with 71 assembly constituencies, that had polling on 28th October has a thick presence of Yadavs and Mahadalits while the share of the EBCs is relatively low.

Bhumihars drift away from JDU

Besides, the upper castes, particularly the Bhumihars drifted away from the JD(U) in significant numbers. Thus, JD(U) in this phase is vulnerable, giving decisive edge to the Gathbandan. On the other hand, the subregions containing a part of north-west Bhojpuri, Bajjika, Maithili and Angika speaking areas along with Patna and Nalanda, which had polling in the second phase on 3rd November containing 94 seats have a sizeable presence of non-Yadav OBCs, EBCs and upper castes. The presence of Dalits and Muslims therein is less than 20%. There, the electoral contest ideally should have favoured the NDA. However, given the visible anger in a section of upper caste youths against the JD(U), there is a sense of uncertainty prevailing in this region too and the contest is very close.

BJP contests in regions where Muslims, Yadavs dominate

Finally, in third and the last phase the areas that had polling on Saturday,  7th November, containing 78 seats, the sub-regions, parts of Bhojpuri, Bajjika and major portion of Maithili speaking areas and entire Seemanchal belt have a thick presence of Muslims. Particularly, in Kosi and Seemachal region, the stronger presence of Yadavs and Muslims respectively should favour RJD led Gathbandhan over the NDA. However, in this region BJP is contesting more seats than JD(U) wherein the anti-incumbency is diluted. Hence, the final outcome may be closer than expected. PEOPLES PULSE and PSG employed both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the people disposition for the Bihar Exit poll.

Also Read: Battle for Bihar: BJP clears the air, backs Kumar

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