By Biraj Dixit:
In another couple of days, the nation would know its mandate. People would know whether their inked finger has left its mark or got chewed in anticipation of a nail-biting finish. The final outcome of the massive exercise of elections would end up with some toned muscles while some others flexing theirs. And finally curtains would be drawn on elections as held in the drawing room discussions and studio hullaballoo. The predictions of the exit polls will finally face the test of the time. Ah, some eventful days ahead! I simply find no reason or need for exit poll. Why predict something that would in just some days’ time show its face and say ‘Bhoo’?
But one can absolutely understand the urge. It stems from our ancestors’ ceaseless striving for ultimate knowledge. While they insisted on ‘striving’ for knowledge, in course of so many centuries things got a little cooked-up, and today we believe we have ‘ultimate knowledge.’ Professional pollsters may have made a job out of predicting polls applying statistical data, researching and analysing, but we, the possessors of ultimate knowledge, are hardly bound by such compulsions and computations. Profound as we are we predict on instincts. Then again, when I think of my own urge to predict, flashes of my mathematics paper cross my mind.
After every math examination I would calculate marks whilst clearly knowing that my math teacher’s equations worked very differently from my own simple-minded problem-solving techniques. Still, I would calculate, give myself full marks, and then, on second thoughts, withdraw half of those remembering teacher’s insistence on ‘method’. I used to be mighty pleased if my marks came even one yard near to my calculations. Perhaps for our pollsters too, polls are those irresistible post-exam marks calculations. One has to do it. One needs to cater to one’s own and others’ need to know. For, one is sure to get a question thrown at oneself, “How did it go?”
And when ones blurts out ‘good’, one must be absolutely sure how ‘good’. Appearing (almost always with a heavy heart) for my math exams for a better part of my academic life has long convinced me that only the most meritorious students who’ve scribbled in math notebooks for 5-6 hours a day, can confess, “not very good” with conviction. Even their “not very good,” is gauged as a mark of their quest for excellence. For ‘averages’ like me the remotest hint of “not very good,” automatically got heard as ‘not good’ and lambast, condemnation and ‘you are grounded’ came in quick succession. So, one has to be sure of one’s calculations after exiting the examination hall to convince oneself and later to others, that the exam went ‘well’. On such occasions, like nervous political parties haven’t we all said, “Oh, we would easily slide through,” with great degree of conviction while keeping our fingers crossed? Of course, one cannot hold pollsters as guilty as my mother held me for my math debacle.
“If they are wrong, they are just plain wrong and not “I knew it…” wrong like my good self. I kind of envy the pollsters. Their calculations may miss the mark, but their equations suffer no seasonal damage like my post-math exam summer vacations often did. But then if you are right, you are right. You get the brownie. People respect you and if you make getting right your habit, life may even grant you the chance to govern it. I would have loved getting right all the time but it was too much of a hard work. Anyways, most of the exit polls have aligned one way this elections and my own prediction says that they may be right. Given my aptitude of right calculations, my understanding of the world around and faculty for nuanced assimilation of facts, I should rather keep my mouth shut.
But when the entire nation is making predictions as part of national duty and every Tom, Dick and Harry is a pollster, I might as well exercise my right to predict. Especially, when you are finally at the liberty of getting it absolutely wrong and yet not get ‘grounded’. Exit polls also give us chance to understand how people add, subtract and carry over their government’s achievements, nation’s progress, their own expectations and display their involvement in governance of the nation. The nation that has its people’s vigour and energy for sloganeering; their prickly sense of humour on Twitter and WhatsApp; their inexhaustible vocabulary for applauding and condemning the good, bad and ugly; must also get a chance to know the direction of their true thoughts and ‘ultimate knowledge.’
Starting tomorrow, the nation would begin to know what it might have known and would hear ‘bola thaa na’ in plenty. Elections may come and exit, but people’s right to predict must live long. Long live people’s poll-itics! l