by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Keshubhai Patel versus Narendra Modi - who won?

Scarcely 40 hours from his article, on 20th Dec 2012, around 10 am, the Electronic Voting Machines would have splurged their secrets. We would know for sure who has pulled off a coup.

All the exit polls indicate that Narendra Modi is well in position to retain power and become the 3rd time Chief Minister of Gujarat.  Modi-maniacs in his own party are already dreaming of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India in 2014.

Those Modi-maniacs seem to have missed a couple of crucial lessons.  Politics of India and the people of India seldom placed their trust on a nationally untested regional leader

Out of 13 persons who have been PM of India, only H.D. Deve Gowda (and to an extent I.K. Gujral) are the regional leaders who managed to make it, without dabbling in national stage.

The other historical fact is that the last Gujarati who managed to make it to the chair, Morarji Desai, mangled his tenure thoroughly.  Not to forget that Narendra Modi, just like Morarji Desai is a non-unifying, divisive, rigid individual.

Apart, there is also the question on how correct the exit polls in India are.  As we saw during the Assembly Polls in my own home state (April/May 2011), it was complete confusion.  But the forecast were so confused that every pollster could claim that he was right (including yours truly).

Again in March 2012, we witnessed the cluster-feck by the pollsters in the Assembly Elections of 5 states, especially in UP.  No one could agree on how the 4 way split in Uttar Pradesh will end up.

The main reason seems to be the reluctance of the Indian voter to talk openly about his intentions except in a secret ballot.

Broadly speaking, seems the voters either in fear or intentionally refuses to part with the information.  Maybe there is also a cruel streak in him/her which wishes for the politicians who make his life miserable feel the same way for a couple of days or weeks.

But the bleeding politicians aren’t willing to put up with such suspense even for a short period of time.  The politicians of today are a far cry from those good men of the yore, who didn’t mind solitude, hard labour, and disease to fight for our freedom.

If you don’t believe me, just 2 days back, L.K. Advani, incidentally of the same BJP of Narendra Modi, asked the Election Commission to do away with the waiting period for consolidated counting.  The old man is in such a hurry to know the results, assume and enjoy power.  No wonder his dreams of the PM’s chair has turned into a mirage.

But then again, I’ve a suspicion about the so called higher voter turnout in all these elections.  Mind you, I am not saying that there is bogus voting.  On the contrary the turnout seems huge because bogus voters have been weeded out.

To my mind approximately the same number of voters have been casting votes in the elections, but because the total number of voters (after removal of bogus, duplicate voters) has come down, it boosts the voting percentage.

For eg., let us compare the Assembly Elections in my home state of Tamil Nadu in 2006 and 2011.  Remember that the voters of TN threw out the ruling party (combines) in both the elections.  In 2006 they showed the door to J. Jayalalitha.  In 2011 they chucked out M. Karunanidhi.

Election Year Votes polled Percentage Total voters on rolls
2006 32,991,555 70.70% 46,603,827
2011 36,753,114 78.12% 47,115,846

As we can see, there is nothing here to suggest that the much hailed 8% higher turnout was the divisive factor which swung the elections one way or another.  In case we need additional proof that higher voting translates to regime change, let us look at the 2001 and 1996 data.

Election Year Votes polled Percentage Total voters on rolls
2001 28,048,077 59.07% 47,479,000
1996 28,439,249 66.95% 42,478,965

Note the interesting facts.  The total voters on rolls has been fairly consistent, almost stagnant.  And people who voted whether they are around 60% or around 80% in all these 4 elections have thrown out the existing regime.

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter how many people voted in an election or what percentage they constitute.  The pollsters consistently get it wrong, because the Indian voter plays his cards close to his chest.

So, don’t be surprised on 20th December!  I won't be.

(image courtesy Satish Acharya @

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