IT WAS a sharp irony for the die-hard supporters of the Congress party to see ‘reluctant’ national leader Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s tweet celebrating Trinamool Congress’ victory in the West Bengal Assembly elections. Mr. Gandhi’s exuberance stemmed from the fact that Ms. Mamata Banerjee’s party had managed to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The tweet was apt reflection of the Grand Old Party’s current phase of confusion and chaos within as Mr. Gandhi conveniently forgot that Congress was decimated in the State. Similar were the results in other States, including Kerala which is home constituency of Mr. Gandhi in Lok Sabha. The loss is in continuation of Congress’ southern spiral in the country’s political landscape since 2014 when it was dislodged by Mr. Narendra Modi’s powerful gale-force. While senior leaders Mr. Shashi Tharoor and Mr. Randeep Surjewala express their disappointment and resolve to come back stronger, even they know the ineptness of their central leadership in steering ashore the rudderless ship. A stirring introspection over its own role in national politics can only save Congress. That can happen only if there is a big push for intra-party democracy.
NO MATTER the differing details of accuracy of their predictions about the outcome of elections, the exit polls have become an integral factor in the country’s electoral dangal. Following each election, exit polls make predictions, some of which are proved right and some totally off the mark. Despite this, well beyond simple entertainment value, the exit polls play a crucial role in the assessment of public mood on electoral issues and how different political parties confront those. The predictions that are proved right do not underline the inevitability of the phenomenon of exit polls. Likewise, their failure also does not make case to have them officially scrapped. For, in their own way, the exit polls do offer indications of the shape of things to come after elections. The pollsters work on certain premises and follow certain practices, some of which are right and some wrong. But the nation need not mind those variations. For, after all, is not multiplicity of opinions and tilts and assessments of any event or development an integral part of democracy? That is why exit polls are a popular draw because they also add to the democratic dimensions of the battle of opinions.