Intriguing results from popular personality poll

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | R. MOHAN
Published Oct 29, 2018, 1:35 am IST
Updated Oct 29, 2018, 1:35 am IST
Love or hate, Tamil Nadu has always been number one for sheer political theatre.
MK Stalin
 MK Stalin

It was impossible in the past to Tamil Nadu politics from the world of cinema. Maybe, the tradition is just continuing as politics still resembles a soap opera, much like it was even in such serious issues as the arrest once of M. Karunanidhi from his home or the manner in which the national flag was ripped off Jayalalithaa’s car even as the court verdict was just trickling out in Bengaluru. Two of the three major CM figures of the last 49 years came to hate each other so much they would not so much as glance in the other’s direction. 

Love or hate, Tamil Nadu has always been number one for sheer political theatre. The stage is the same and only the actors change. Some of the old ice seemed to have been broken when the Opposition leader MK Stalin called upon the CM at his office at the Secretariat a few months ago. Such cordiality may have waned a bit subsequently, certainly after Karunanidhi’s demise, and the parlous political situation may even have contributed. The latest poll on who is considered the most popular figure as CM choice of the people has the potential to push the ties further back.

 

You may have to take the pollsters of India with a pinch of salt. They are not Gallup- accurate as they like to project themselves to be. Even so, we can’t ignore what they are saying if only for the fear that they may turn true after all. Much like the horse racing forecaster’s tip hovering into view on the home stretch and nailing it at the finish, there is no discounting the possibility of them being right as wrong, even if they are, perhaps onl as often right as they are wrong. As a wise man once said everything in life is 50:50.

The TV show projecting the results of a poll on who would be the people’s PM and CM choices in Tamil Nadu proved intriguing only because it seemed to bring in different perspectives and regional and national flavours. Having had the people polled on their preferences, India Today TV dramatised the findings while declaring a distinct bias for Rahul Gandhi over Narendra Modi in most southern states. For TN, the figures were 29 per cent for the reigning PM and 36 for the scion of the Gandhi clan who is now the PM aspirant after having been heir apparent seemingly for an eternity.

Considering India does not have the presidential form of government, a basic question arises over polling on the basis of the popularity of individuals. What would the results of such polling really yield? The comparative popularity of political parties would have to be considered too and the data from such party polling interpolated before making projections. There too, an area in which the pollsters struggle is in projecting seats from vote share. But that kind of polling will be more relevant closer to the elections.

Right now, the percentage of polling of CM candidates for Tamil Nadu is what seemed to grab the eyeballs. Apparently, the Opposition leader MK Stalin is the candidate most favoured for the CM post. He gets a whopping 41 per cent eclipsing all his rivals. The nearest to him is the incumbent CM, Edapaddi Palaniswami who had 10 per cent of the voters favouring him. And the field bunches up then and there with the next contender — Kamal Haasan, coming in at 8 per cent, Anbumani Ramdas at 7 per cent and Rajinikanth and O Panneerselvam and TTV Dhinakaran at 6 per cent and Captain Vijayakanth (5 per cent).

The most interesting finding as things stand now with Kamal’s party active and Rajini still talking about his party without quite having named it nor officially having taken the plunge, is that Kamal is ahead of the Superstar Rajini in the eyes of the public so far as being a political leader goes. That could change when Rajini activates his party and he himself finds the political energy like Kamal to be a full-time politician. But one would have thought the reverse would be true with Rajini higher in the public popularity rating than Kamal.

We had come to know from past results that party backing the candidate is more important than the individual in a State governed by Dravidian politics. Take for instance the former deputy CM V.R. Nedunchezhiyan, a powerful minister in the Dravidian land. When he stood as an independent candidate in Mylapore once when he was out of both majors, he polled a miserable total of 200-plus votes. So, individual popularity might hold little meaning in Tamil Nadu.

Of course, polls are hard to trust because the sampling is never as high as to lend the predictions a degree of acceptable accuracy. They do make a political talking point at a time when they say bypolls to as many as 20 constituencies are in the offing. The test of the people’s voice in actual polls might be a better pointer to what may happen in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as well as in the State Assembly polls whenever they are to be held in the citadel of Dravidianism.

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