Mistimed discussions: Is it a hallmark of Indian journalism?

    By Soroor Ahmed, TwoCircles.net

    In 21st century India the self-appointed journalists and experts are allowed to speak whatever nonsense they can on television channels and write whatever crap they wish to in newspapers and magazines. The few serious and objective ones have been left to sulk in the corner. They are not invited in such panel discussions and even if they are called there are very few to listen to them.

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    Perhaps nothing exemplifies it better than the hordes of discussions on the exit poll held minutes after the completion of the Assembly election in the five states––Mizoram is also a part of India, which perhaps many of our senior journalists forgot.

    Normally, in most democracies, even in neighbouring Pakistan––whose experience with democracy is much shorter––election results do not come after so many days of polling. The parliament election was held on May 11 last and the trend started appearing by the same night and a day later it was almost clear that the Pakistan Muslim League has won. What is more, unlike India, where we have Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), they still have ballots to count.

    So this immediate result deprived the so-called media pundits to go for exit poll, fuel speculations in stock market, sit in various TV studios and come out with some fantastic stuff. Just switch back to most of the premier television channels of India and listen to what and how were our experts discussing the exit polls––as if the final results have already come and there is no need for counting any more.

    Though most of their arguments were self-contradictory yet they were as assertive in their assessment as if nothing can be more truer than their utterances.

    The exit poll results may prove right this time. Even in that case most of the analyses were wrong. For example a reputed editor said that the Congress ‘lost’ because it did not project chief ministerial candidates not knowing that the party already had two very good performing chief ministers––in Delhi and Rajasthan––leading the pack, yet losing the election (if the exit poll proves right).

    Perhaps their track record was much better than Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, the two BJP CMs in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh respectively.

    The gentleman editor perhaps forgot to recall that only recently the Congress snatched back Karnataka from the BJP without announcing any CM candidate before hand. Similarly it won back Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh from the BJP in the last couple of years without announcing any chief ministerial candidate. And finally the Congress won the 2004 Lok Sabha election from the BJP-led NDA without announcing any prime ministerial candidate. What this gentleman editor could not remember is that in December 2003 the BJP won Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, while Congress only Delhi. This prompted the party to pre-pone the election from Sep-Oct to April-May 2004. Strangely the NDA lost power.

    A renowned historian remarked in one of the channels that the absence of regional satraps in Congress led to its ‘defeat’ while another senior journalist said that it is the victory of development––perhaps not knowing what actually the word development means.

    Some others said that the dynastic rule and corruption are the factors which led to the defeat, not knowing that Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh were snatched from the BJP after 2G Spectrum and Commonwealth Games scam came to light.
    They perhaps are not aware of the fact that the BJP is facing the same problem of regional leadership at the state level which the Congress is facing. Take the example of UP, the state with largest number of seats.Where have Kalyan Singh, Kalraj Mishra, Lalji Tandon, Vinay Katiyar etc all gone after the advent of Narendra Modi. They all have been cut beyond their size. There is only Amit Shah there.

    None of them ever said that the exit polls are not actually the election results and they may still go wrong. The truth is that there is no scope of such authoritative analysis on December 4––rather than the best time for it is after December 8, when the results are actually announced.

    Soroor Ahmed is a Patna-based freelance journalist. He writes on political, social, national and international issues.