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archive: BJP front to cross 300 mark: Survey

BJP front to cross 300 mark: Survey

Pioneer News Service / New Delhi
The Pioneer
September 3, 1999


    Title: BJP front to cross 300 mark: Survey
    Author: Pioneer News Service / New Delhi
    Publication: The Pioneer
    Date: September 3, 1999
    
    The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance would get
    a total of 308 to 318 seats in the forthcoming elections, according to
    the national poll survey carried out for The Pioneer by the Research &
    Development Initiative.
    
    The Congress and its allies are tipped to secure 145 to 150 seats, 20
    seats less than what they had in the 12th Lok Sabha. The opinion poll,
    conducted in 81 representative parliamentary constituencies spread
    over 16 States last week, reveals that the Congress on its own would
    secure the lowest tally since Independence.
    
    Based on interviews with 14,850 eligible voters, the survey observes
    that the initial euphoria of nuclear explosion and Kargil is gone and
    has been replaced by issues of stability and Ms Sonia Gandhi's foreign
    origin.
    
    As for the leader who could lead the nation to the new millennium, 55
    per cent voted for Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and 33 per cent for Ms
    Sonia Gandhi.
    
    On the Congress president's foreign origin issue, 48 per cent persons
    said she should not hold high political office. However, 38 per cent
    felt the origin of the person does not matter as long as he/she shows
    exemplary commitment towards the country. Of the 300-plus seats
    predicted for the NDA, the BJP alone would cross the 200-seat mark for
    the first time. In the last Lok Sabha, the party had 182 seats.
    
    The Congress, on the other hand, may manage just 125 seats on its own,
    which would be much lower than what it secured in 1977 (154), 1996
    (137) or 1998 (142).
    
    The survey attributes the NDA gain to the pre-poll split in the
    Congress by Mr Sharad Pawar, as well as the formidable electoral
    alliances the BJP had struck in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka
    and Bihar.
    
    These two factors, according to the poll, had considerably weakened
    the Congress. However, the Congress is slightly better placed in Uttar
    Pradesh, Punjab and Kerala.
    
    In this context the poll notes that except in Punjab, where the
    Congress will gain at the cost of NDA constituent Shiromani Akali Dal,
    in the other two States, the party eat into the voteshare of third
    front parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Left Front.
    
    According to the survey, both the BJP and Congress-led fronts would
    gain in terms of projected vote share. While the NDA would increase
    its vote share by 3.9 per cent to reach 41 per cent, the Congress-led
    alliance would poll 33 per cent of the total votes. The two fronts
    would not be cutting into each other's vote share, but gaining at the
    cost of smaller parties, which is expected to lose 7.8 per cent vote.
    
    State-wise, the poll predicts a spectacular showing for the BJP in
    Gujarat where it is tipped to bag 18 of the 26 Lok Sabha seats,
    improving its 1998 tally by two.
    
    In Maharashtra too, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is likely to bag 28 of
    the 48 seats, a net gain of 18 over previous year's tally. The survey
    findings indicate that Mr Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party would cut
    into the Congress vote by 19 per cent and the BJP-Sena combine vote by
    six per cent in the State.
    
    In Karnataka, the inclusion of the Janata Dal's Patel faction in the
    BJP/Lok Shakti combine does not seem to have harmed the NDA's
    prospects in Karnataka. The survey predicts 18 seats for the alliance,
    a gain of two over 1998.
    
    In Bihar too, the survey finds the BJP/Samata/JD(U) alliance gaining
    five seats and increasing its vote-share by six per cent.
    
    Interestingly, though the RJD/Congress alliance would lose seats, it
    would register a gain of two per cent votes.
    
    In West Bengal, the survey predicts a spectacular gains by the
    Trinamool Congress. However in Tamil Nadu, the survey says that the
    BJP-DMK tie-up could face a stiff resistance from the AIADMK/Congress
    combine in some pockets. In other words, it would not be a sweep as
    expected in the State.
    
    The poll predicts that the DMK-BJP alliance would bag 24 seats and the
    AIADMK-Congress combine 15. The TMC is unlikely to get a single seat.
    In Andhra Pradesh, the survey indicates a tally of 30 for the BJP-TDP
    combine, a gain of 10 at the cost of the Congress. In this election
    the BJP has made stability as one of its poll planks. But as many as
    17 per cent of the respondents say that constant conflict among the
    constituents has been the biggest failure of the BJP-led alliance.
    Another 16 per cent feel that the Government was unable to provide
    stability.
    
    Despite its gains, not many people see the BJP as poor-friendly. It is
    still regarded as the party of Brahmins and Banias.
    
    The sample survey conducted by the RDI was based on structured
    questionnaires administered to respondents selected by following
    systematic random sampling procedure. Extensive qualitative reasearch
    was carried out in over 50 Lok Sabha constitutencies to validate the
    quantitative findings. The margin of error is expected to be around
    2.5 per cent.
    



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