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Opinion poll, exit poll are they necessary, if so why?.

Whether opinion polls & exit polls are necessary or they are just another statistical figure in the books of various pre & post elections data archived by various agencies is an issue of debate.

This debate always arises; especially this issue is raised by a political party who is on the darker side of the tunnel. But next time when the same party is shown at the shiner side, the opinions are humbly welcomed. This year also, the same game was played by various political parties.

Our country has deep rooted democratic tradition, started since it was born out of the colonial regime. Our constitution makers advocated adult universal suffrage at that time when measly 15% of the "Janta" was educated. Now that our "Janta" has achieved the literacy rate of more than 70%, how these polls can influence their trained minds is hard to understand.

The opinion polls indicate the general trend where future of the democracy likely to rest. It's just another voice of the democracy, warning the incumbent party of shaking its roots.

Opinion polls exhibit the feeling & sentiments of the public towards the ruling party's & other options available for the people. It bridges the gap among the trio- what the incumbent party promised, what it has actually delivered & what the other options have to offer.

If taken optimistically, the party which is at the dismay at the polls' results can actually analyze what is going wrong & what preventive measures it can take.

However, if only wanna be chair lovers are in the field, they can also choose the path of dirty politics to win the game, showing no empathy towards public's outlook.

At the same time, exit polls, shows the drawing or redrawing the current political map likely to take place.

After the 2013 assembly elections, when the results of exit polls & the actual results were tallied, it showed how various agencies predicted near correct results on the basis of their small sample. These general trends can actually serve as corrective measures for the "not so lucky" parties to tackle the areas which lead to their defeat. But instead of doing so, they indulge in debating whether these polls should continue or not.

Today's media has far reaching impact than that of earlier, whether it be print media, news channels or the new in the headlines or the social media.

The opinion poll demonstrates which policies are being liked by the general public, what more expectations they possess, what they demand from the government and the issues over which they can form their opinion.

These polls can serve as an interactive platform between the voters & the various parties. If taken in the positive sense, it can assist the parties in molding their policies towards a welfare state, which is the only requirement of the public.

Some times polls conducted by these media are often accused of distorting the true picture. In order to show the actual picture, these polls should be completely unbiased, sample size should be representative so as to serve the actual purpose. Representing only a section of society or community can ultimately result in distorting the picture defeating the purpose of these polls.

Further, as noted in the recent assembly elections, various agencies were involved in conducting these polls in the states of Delhi, Chhattisgarh, MP and Rajasthan. However, only one agency was keen to conduct them in the state of Mizoram, that too at their own cost, without any sponsor. This reflects the callous attitude of the media towards the north eastern states which deserve the same attention as other states do. The agencies should bear their responsibilities towards northeastern states also.

As the old proverb says, a coin has always two sides; likewise this debate is never ending. Instead of thinking of reversing the clock after the elections results, the parties should adjust their clock as per the general public sentiments. When the readymade data is being made available to them regarding their results, why not use that, instead of debating whether these data are required or not?

Shilpi Agarwal

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