Opinion and exit polls lack credibility

APROPOS of V. Eshwar Anand’s article “Towards free and fair elections: Limits of freedom of speech and expression” (April 21), the issue in question is not only the jurisdiction of the Election Commission but the fundamental rights of the citizens and the state’s power to impose reasonable restrictions for social control, public order and larger public good. This needs further elucidation as the catalytic role of the mass media in shaping and influencing public opinion, particularly voting behaviour, has acquired a paramount importance in the world’s largest democracy.

Political parties view and interpret opinion and exit polls differently to suit their partisan ends. These polls could be criticised on many grounds — erroneous, misleading, politically biased and strategic manoeuvrability by the elite class to garner support and unreasonably influence the majority of the decisive innocent voters who do not decide whom to vote till the last minute.



Opinion and exit polls interfere with the human psyche of the voters and prevent them from making an informed choice. These polls have become a lucrative business for psephologists and pollsters who are engaged in prescribing variables for voting behaviour which can never be foretold. For instance, in 1996, the exit polls gave Mr H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal faction just one seat but he got 16 and even became the Prime Minister. So, the credibility of these polls are at stake.

Consequently, no hard and fast rule can be applied for individual choice of voters whose thinking is susceptible to many unpredictable factors. The need of the hour is not exit and opinion polls to gauge the public mood during the election time but empirical investigations to examine the performance of government at various levels and course corrections.

Dr RAJ KUMAR SIWACH, Lecturer in Public Admn, G.N. Khalsa College, Karnal


Opinion and exit polls are, certainly, questionable. They lack credibility. However, one cannot overlook the fact that the exit polls after the first two phases of polling indicate problems for the NDA and a hung Parliament. The country’s share markets made a record crash. It clearly shows that the country is badly in need of a stable government.

The ball lies in the people’s court now. Only they can save the country from turmoil. So now it is the duty of the voters to opt for stability, leaving aside all their personal likes and dislikes. They should give a decisive mandate to a party which is expected to win the maximum number of seats and ensure a stable government.



Plato, the renowned Roman philosopher, about 2500 years ago, wrote: “The punishment that the wise and good, who decline to take interest in the affairs of the country, must suffer is to be ruled by the rest, viz., fools and knaves”. Democracy is the most difficult and complicated form of government, whose basic tenets should have been imparted to the common man inculcating in him the sense of bounden ethical duty (Dharma) to cast his vote freely and fearlessly at the hustings.

This onerous responsibility should have been entrusted to the members of the Constituent Assembly, soon after the passage of the Constitution Bill. Dr Chakravarti Rajagopalachari cried hoarse for simplifying the election procedure and enabling independent, distinguished and upright intellectuals and not-so-rich political parties to contest elections, but in vain.

Lt-Col DALIP SINGH (retd) Ayali Kalan (Ludhiana)

Of netas and their assets

APROPOS of Sunanda K. Datta-Ray’s article “Assets — real or otherwise: It’s discrepancy that matters” (April 26), the writer has very clearly outlined the approach of the representatives for contesting the elections. The so-called voluntary disclosures of the property owned by the candidates are not at all reliable. It is hard to understand how representatives having such meagre resources and assets are able to spend huge money on their election campaigns.

When asked about the mobilisation of funds, the leaders promptly say: “contributions made by well wishers”. It is time for the Election Commission to step in. All the contributions made by these “well wishers” will have to be authenticated by proof of receipts. If the Election Commission comes up with such a measure, I am sure, most candidates will certainly experience a sudden increase in their self-earned and self-acquired assets. They might even discover some legacy left for them by some deceased family member.

Surely, this will make the voters aware of the actual financial status of their representatives and, transparency being the backbone of the smooth functioning of an elected government of a welfare state, such a measure should not bother our politicians.

RISHIKARAN KAKAR, Orlando, Florida


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