Mayawati Lambasts Pollsters for Being Casteists, Under-estimating BSP in their Polls

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Opinion and exit polls consistently over-estimate the BJP and under-estimate non-BJP parties including the Congress and particularly singling out the BSP. The battle for UP is portrayed by both pollsters & media as between SP-Congress Alliance and BJP. But it could well turn out between SP-Congress Alliance and BSP if the past is any indicator. Even if BSP fails to win UP, in the opinion of this blog, BSP is most likely to take at least the second spot. Below extracts of an excellent article from could be found:

Addressing a rally in Saharanpur on February 11, she said, “The opposition parties are using opinion polls and paid surveys to influence the voters. These opinion polls suggest a poor BSP performance. In 2007, something similar was done when both the media and opinion polls placed the BSP on third and fourth position but their lies were exposed when the results came out.”

Addressing a meeting of senior party leaders, Mayawati said, “All the newspapers and TV channels are owned by capitalists and multi-millionaires. The agencies conducting the poll surveys are also controlled by them. These capitalists are using the media and survey agencies to create a conducive political environment for parties like the Congress and BJP because they run the government keeping in mind the profits and losses of their corporate allies. In the forthcoming polls, such surveys will be used to demoralise the BSP workers. The voters must beware of them.”

Mayawati has repeatedly accused the media, which she labels Manuwadi and Brahmanical, of ignoring the BSP and not giving it proper coverage despite it being a leading party in UP. In the ongoing assembly polls, the scathing attacks have continued.

A Brahmanical Media?

“Mayawati is right,” says sociologist Badrinarayan. “She has been pushed to the margins. People are talking about her now when she entered the fray. Somebody claimed that the BSP will get 24 out of 50 seats. As a matter of fact, the media does not understand the BSP. Due to this, it only focuses on the political strategies of other parties. If you don’t visit the villages, how can you present the true picture? Opinions formed at tea stalls are different from those formed in cities. A complete picture emerges only when opinions are collected at all levels.”

“Mayawati is right, but it is not done on purpose,” says Abhay Kumar Dubey, member of the Centre for the Study of Developing Society. “As far as CSDS is concerned, its surveys do not intentionally show BSP lagging behind.”

However, JNU professor Vivek Kumar agrees with Mayawati. “Look at the facts,” he says. “All the opinion polls show BSP in a negative light. What she is saying is true. It is well known that her voters are not in cities. How deep inside the villages do the pollsters go? They never say. Even in cities, do they go to slum areas? The survey sample is not representative, which is why the results are skewed. Secondly, a debate around perception is built by showing speeches of several BJP leaders but only Mayawati for BSP. It appears to be a well-thought out strategy of the media.”

Dilip Mandal, a journalist working on Dalit issues, says, “It is true that none of the opinion polls have so far shown Mayawati or Lalu Yadav in the lead. Usually opinion polls and surveys lean towards specific political parties. The rising forces in politics or the subaltern voices are not presented that way. It is possible that the surveys are honest and the voters of these parties are not as vocal. But if it continues this way, it only seems like a pattern. Why is it happening? Those conducting surveys must seriously think about it. In a diverse society like India, if the sampling is not done correctly, a fair survey cannot be conducted. Secondly, there is a pressure on the voter to speak in favour of a particular party, owing to the distrust media faces today.”

“The media has an upper middle class character,” says Badrinarayan. “People in media do not want to work hard. They form opinions based on information easily obtained and run the news. Besides, it is a political game to keep the BSP and Mayawati on the margins.”

“Mayawati’s support base is not vocal,” says Dubey. “It is possible that poll surveys do not include their opinions completely. As a result, Mayawati’s political strength in UP is often underestimated. But election results show her in the lead. The difference in estimate and reality is based on context and conditions. The better and more scientific a survey is, the closer it is to reality.”

Opinion polls have suffered a massive setback in all previous elections, including the past three general elections. The latest examples are assembly elections of Delhi and Bihar.

Questioning the limits of survey techniques, Dubey says, “Every survey has its limitations because it is dominated by urban, educated and upper caste people. Yet we try to include as many marginalised voices as possible. It is true that the upper caste casts a lot of influence in the media but it does not mean they negatively portray Mayawati intentionally in the surveys because nobody wants to be blamed. If the BSP performs well in the results, and the surveys are proved wrong, we will need to reexamine our survey techniques.”

Read the full article: HERE

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