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Home » Opinion » UP Polls: How and why senior journalists and editors batted for the BJP on poll eve

UP Polls: How and why senior journalists and editors batted for the BJP on poll eve

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Source: India.com

Team Modi’s electoral strategy aimed at capturing floating votes?

Elections are a tricky subject in India. Things can change overnight. Rumor mills start working overtime and rumor mongers have a field day because they know that that is the moment when they can bring about a big change if their tricks succeed. In such a situation when senior journalists and editors lend their weight then the phenomena has the potential to change the poll dynamics in favor of one. They have a lot of potential to influence gullible voters.

For example, Senior journalist and India Today consulting editor Rajdeep Sardesai put his neck “on the line.” Although Rajdeep later tweeted his regret at jumping the gun, the damage has been done.

He was matched in fervor by another senior editor Bhupendra Choubey tweeted: Benaras Modified

“If the BJP were to win or show signs of making it past the poll day after tomorrow, I think that could be an event which takes the market beyond 9000 or even 9100,” said Udayan Mukherjee, Consulting Editor, CNBC-TV18, in an article.

This is actually a big call to make in an apparently ‘wave-less’ election, where there is a pitched electoral battle in all 403 Assembly constituencies. Moreover, such pronouncements inevitably end up harming the electoral process and unduly favor one party over the other. That is why exit polls were banned from publishing results before the electoral process ends because it unduly influences voters and skews the level playing field in the favor of those with political and financial muscle. Similarly, it’s ethically unsound of journalists to take sides even before the exit poll results are out. Although I doubt if this can be prevented legally.

Why the media hysteria on the eve of UP last phase polls

This is all part of a well-calculated media strategy. The BJP, in trying to create a wave or a “Hawa” in its favor, is trying to influence voters, particularly the strategic floaters or the fence sitters—those haven’t made up their minds who to vote to. They are opportunist voters who want to go with the winning party—they don’t want to waste their vote on someone with little chance of winning. The saffron party wants to influence those.

When post-poll analysis is done it will tell us what percentage of floating votes the BJP managed to capture through its artificially manufactured wave or Hawa by contrasting it with the other phases in what was a hugely staggered poll process. Journalists and editors, who can be strong opinion influencers, helped the BJP get those votes, thereby putting the credibility of democracy’s fourth pillar.

Why did the BJP do it on the eve of UP Phase 7 elections?

A couple of days before polls or around the eve of the elections is the best time to strike. Any earlier might end up not causing the desired effect as rumors have very short lives. No wonder, one ends up witnessing a lot of political maneuvers around the last day of campaigning or on the eve of the elections. No wonder, the wave sought to be created was Team Modi’s last minute attempt—just a couple of days before the last leg of UP Assembly Elections 2017, that is, Phase 7 held on March 8.

The use of such tactics is telltale sign that the BJP is desperate and is pulling out all stops. Its eyes and ears are telling it that things might not go its way. Such electoral strategy has a lot to do with how elections are conducted in India. They are usually used in large states where polling takes place over several phases and is staggered. UP Assembly elections were conducted in seven phases beginning from February 11, the first phase to March 8, the last phase and seventh phase, a mind-boggling spread of little less than a month.

Media, the fourth pillar of democracy, is putting its credibility “on the line”

There is no wave for any party or political leader, everyone knows that. However, efforts were made to create a wave for the BJP where none exists. The BJP is actually turning into a pro in the use of such tactics. It applied the same tactics during Delhi and Bihar Assembly Elections as well. Such acts put the credibility of the media “on the line” and damage the electoral process.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Muqbil Ahmar is a writer and theater activist, he tweets at @muqbil_ahmar

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