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27th March, 2004
23.00 IST (+05.30 GMT)

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BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will be back


Poll gives BJP 190-200, Cong 95-105; BJP will do particularly well in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, MP, states it won recently; Tamil Nadu has bad news for Amma - Jayalalitha


NEW DELHI, MARCH 26: The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will be back in the saddle once the heat and dust of the elections is over. And there is a distinct possibility that the Congress may slump below the 100 mark. 

This is suggested by a mid-March opinion poll, jointly commissioned by The Indian Express and NDTV and conducted by A C Nielsen, a leading market research agency. 

The fieldwork for the poll was conducted between March 8 and March 15. The sample size of 45,578, spread over 207 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, is the largest ever sample for a published poll. 

The NDA’s return to power is primarily a result of the significantly improved performance of the BJP in most of the states where it has no allies. 

The states where it is expected to perform particularly well are Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh, states where it performed very well in the recent Assembly elections. Karnataka is another state that may yield good dividends to the BJP. Thus, the BJP is expected to increase its tally and its share of the NDA seats—but will be far away from its optimistically hoped for 300 mark. 

While most of the BJP’s allies are likely to hold their positions, the biggest setback to the alliance is likely to come from Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa, the leader of the alliance, is unpopular in Tamil Nadu. 

Moreover, the DMK-led alliance has the caste combinations on its side and is expected to sweep the state. In fact, had the BJP held on to its earlier allies, the result in Tamil Nadu may have been quite different. 

The Congress alliance, not anywhere as well cobbled together as the NDA, is also likely to hold on to its share. But, unlike the BJP, the Congress is unlikely to do as well as last time and there is the distinct possibility that its number of seats may slump below the 100 mark. Its allies, such as the DMK, are once again expected to do well. 

But a word of caution. Opinion polls measure voter preferences at the time when the poll is conducted. When this poll was carried out, the alliances had not been firmed up, names of candidates not announced, party manifestos not published. 

And more than that, the One Day series against Pakistan was not won. In this information age, where contests have become increasingly presidential even in parliamentary democracies, single events can have serious impact on the polls—witness the recent elections in Spain where a likely winner lost decisively due to the blasts that occurred in Madrid on the eve of the polls. Therefore, this is not the only poll that The Indian Express-NDTV combine has commissioned but only the first in a series of two opinion polls and an exit poll that will be conducted by A C Nielsen. 

Source: Indian Express

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