On the 7th of April 2014, post-modern India’s tryst with destiny begins. Will we really see a historic change in a nation’s life or will the status-quoists maintain their upper hand? Will India finally be liberated from the clutches of Dilli Sultanate after almost a millennium or will we once again be held captive due to the historic nonchalance of the naïve natives? Will a nation finally break free from the inherent Hindu fallacy of renunciation and accept the new paradigm of power as the central notion of existence? Will India as a nation finally bury its socialist antecedents and walk on a path of true capitalism with opportunities for all and appeasement to none? Will Modi be able to take India to a new dawn or will it just be another compromise Hindu formula of half measures?
A million such questions shall be answered on May 16th, but can we really wait for that long? As a nation we are buzzing with restless energy that wants instant nirvana at any cost. If elections are a long drawn out battle spread across a month and a half, can we really afford to wait for that long just to get a peep into the minds of ordinary Indians? Can’t we, for instance, get an instant reaction on the day of polling? The answer to that, ladies and gentlemen is simple – Yes, we can!
In the past we have seen that long drawn out electoral battles tend to produce dramatic results simply because of the sheer length of time which makes it very difficult for ordinary voters to stick to their choices. What may be true today of the collective political opinion of India, may well have changed in just a few days, let alone multiple weeks. One of the most fascinating examples in recent times of a most dramatic shift in the voter’s choice was seen in 2004, when an almost undefeatable Vajpayee lost out to a greenhorn like Sonia Gandhi leading to what is aptly described as the “decade of decay”. In order to track these subtle shifts of voting patterns and to analyse the 2014 elections threadbare as it unfolds, we are announcing a path-breaking idea here on 5Forty3!
Starting from the 7th of April, on all major polling days, 5Forty3 will present to you live data from all over India in a gigantic exercise involving literally hundreds of people spread across geographies. We will be receiving Live data feeds from various strategic polling stations of important Parliamentary Constituencies which we will be processing and analysing on the go to provide you a dramatically clear idea of which way India is voting!
Here is our proposed line up of activity for Indian Elections;
Early voters are said to be the most non-partisan of all, for they simply go to the polling station to exercise their franchise and do their top-most duty towards the nation. These are voters who have already made up their minds much earlier and are mostly not swayed by either last minute inducements or even political parties’ mass mobilization through a network of cadre support. Usually, voting before 11 AM sets the trend through its strength or the lack of it. For instance, one of the most amazing statistics of the historic 1977 elections was the massive turnout in the first few hours which created the anti-Congress euphoria all around.
Our trained set of field workers (in teams of 10) will be literally covering hundreds of polling stations from early morning to gauge the mood of the early voters. We will not only be relaying live data every hour on our website, but also be doing a special analysis at 11 AM on each polling day to give you insights that you are unlikely to get from any other source in India!
One of the most fascinating aspects of Indian elections are the women voters, whose participation makes or mars many a battles in the Indian electoral arena. I have been a first-hand witness to the extraordinary impact of women voters many a times in the past. One of my enduring memories was during the Gujarat assembly elections in December 2012 – let me narrate that story in brief.
As a part of our election coverage, I was travelling in Saurashtra on the polling day in December 2012 and was initially taken aback by the localized anti-incumbency against the BJP government (mainly due to drought and partially due to the Keshubhai Patel factor). As village after village was showing anti-BJP turnout, I was mesmerized by this phenomenon even as I reached Jetpur (I was covering the Rajkot-Junagad circuit on that day). In jetpur, as we reached the main polling station areas, we could just see a great deal of emptiness with hardly any voter participation. One could almost sense a lack of willingness on the part of Saurashtrians to participate in elections and many local journalists were telling me that Modi is really on a sticky wicket. Just then, a miracle happened!
At around 12:30 PM, suddenly these hundreds of women started walking towards the polling station in colourful sarees and attire… and all that emptiness was suddenly filled with a riot of colours (Jetpur is very famous for its embroidery work on women’s clothing). All these women had finished their daily chores and had now found the free time to cast their votes. Over the next hour or so literally thousnds of women came out in huge numbers across Saurashtra (confirmed by colleagues covering other circuits) and voted overwhelmingly to elect Narendra Bhai once again. This is what reversed the trend of that election completely and BJP won a historic third victory under Narendra Modi.
Our specially trained field workers would be targeting the women voters to get Live data on how the fairer sex have voted in 2014 during this very important time on each polling day. We would be presenting the most comprehensive analysis at around 1:30 PM to give you an understanding of what women want.
At around 4:30 PM, we will present to you all the drama of the post noon session, when political parties become active based on the polling reports up to lunch. Once upon a time, this period of time used to be known as the “booth capturing phase” as most of the Bahubalis indulged in the activity of capturing a booth around this time due to a certain post lunch laxity on the part of the authorities. These days, thankfully, we have EVMs, which negate most of such nefarious activities, yet this is an important phase when political parties mobilize their cadre to bring in supporters to the polling booths. This is the one last chance that parties and candidates have to reverse any adverse voting by maximum mobilization of the cadre.
As was evident during the Delhi elections, established political parties (both BJP and Congress) had realized by this time that AAP was no pushover and had started to mobilize their workers to bring in voters in order to counter the massive voting for AAP before noon. What really stunned political parties was that AAP volunteers were ready for this challenge too as they managed to match the mobilization of big party networks even so late in the day. Those dramatic last few hours were no doubt chaotic in Delhi, but also possibly taught many political lessons to the bigger parties on the art of counter mobilization.
Once again, we have taken enough care not to overwhelm our data collection methodologies in these last couple of hours when there could be large queues due to active mobilization. What we must understand is that these voters who are mobilized by the cadre mostly tend to be partisan, so our representative sampling methodologies have been tuned accordingly to factor in these excesses. We will be analysing and understanding the 4:30 Prime on each day of polling through some path breaking methodologies and mathematical modelling!
Good evening India at 7 PM:
On each polling day, at about 7 PM, we will be presenting the final part of our day’s election analysis, when we shall be looking at how India had voted on that day, especially as we would then have provisional turnout figures to correlate most of our data with. Also at 7 PM, we will be presenting the first glimpse of the social picture of voting by analysing which way key caste-religious groups have likely gone, along with a glance at the youth and women votes. This 7 PM analysis will probably give you the most definitive picture of the emerging trend that no other source would possibly give you in 2014!
Finally, within 48 hours of polling, we would be presenting the most comprehensive post-poll analysis with swing factors, turnout differentials and most importantly caste-vote matrix (as we would have, by then, had enough time to fully understand the picture through sheer numbers).
Throughout all this exercise, you can be rest assured of one thing – whatever our inherent biases or our personal political leanings, the only religion we would be following for the next month (till May 16th) is known as DATA! The only ideology we shall adhere to is NUMBERS!
Of course, all of this needs a great deal of capital and without your support this whole exercise would be in a grave danger of collapsing! Do you really want to let go of this historic opportunity to alter the narrative course of a new India? Do you really think you cannot afford to invest as little money as you might spend on a few movie tickets and a dinner on an average weekend? Help us redefine Indian election analysis and help us to keep you informed with an alternate narrative, don’t let go of this historic opportunity!