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   A lot of people have been wondering how... (May 17, 1991)

A lot of people have been wondering how these pollsters go about their work and arrive at such precise and accurate conclusion, such as the Congress will get 43.06 per cent of the votes, the BJP 41.82 per cent, the rest seven per cent, independents 0.11 per cent, etc.

Actually, it is quite an elaborate process: a lot of interviews are taken, a great number of people are sent out into the field, computer readours are programmed, experts sit in backrooms and make tabulations. That is why the major polling agencies charges lakhs if rupees to newspapers who publish their accurate forecasts.

I will explain. Th efirst thing a polling agency does is gets hold of five ordinary looking people representing different different professions, religions, communities, regious, even sex, there would be at least one woman.

For instance, and this is only an example, there would be one Hindu Bengali male middle-aged banker from Calcutta. He represents the Mr. Marwari business community, the one that is going to teach Mr. Biju Patnaik a lesson. Then there would be one Maharashtrian elderly, union-affiliated mill-worker from Ratnagiri, residing at Lalbaug, Bombay, and presently unemployed because him mill has a lock-out. He represents the exploited working classes. There will, be one young man, just past 18, anti-Mandal, recent graduate from J.N. University, male, looking for a job and not getting one. He represents the new voter, the unemployed educated youth.

There will also be one Muslim weaver from Murshidabad, gentle, poor, uneducated, being paid a pittance while the middle-man make all the money. He represents the Muslim votbank. And there will be a housewife, distressed, unhappy, worried about the continuous rise in prices of rice, dal, vegetable oil, school fees, etc. She represents the housewife and the woman's vote, the kind Mrs. Jaywantiben Mehta may cash on, but not Mrs. Maneka Gandhi.

That makes the five persons who represent India. The pollsters put them together in one room, or, perhaps, in five separate rooms, and question them on who they will vote for. Now, it you study the earlier-mentioned panel carefully, you will find that one of them will say he will find that one of them will say he will vote for the Congress, the other for Janata Dal, another for SJP, another for the Leftists.

That gives equal votes to all the five major parties. This information is then fid into a computer which gives out the verdict of a hung parliament.

 
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