February 7, 2007
News of Congress’ demise is greatly exaggerated, given the most extensive poll survey yet taken ahead of the elections.
A Garhwal Post-Umeed survey of 18,000 in all 70 constituencies in Uttarakhand found the BJP polling a mere percentage point ahead of the Congress. This is less than the 1.7 per cent margin that the Congress won by in the 2002 elections. However, Congress is still set to win more seats (24 to 22), due to its relative strength in the hills where the party outpolls the BJP in both Garhwal and Kumaon as compared to the plains. This is despite ND Tiwari being the most popular leader in the plains, with BC Khanduri beating him in Garhwal and Harish Rawat in Kumaon.
The UKD is set to gain at least one more seat, however the election itself will be decided by the 15 marginal seats that are still up for grabs. The poll also found that unemployment remains the number one issue in the state, with inflation creeping up as distant second.
The real story here is the continuing strength of Congress, which is quite remarkable give the anti-incumbency factor operating in the state. It seems that all campaign rhetoric and propaganda has not dented the party’s image significantly and that its accomplishments have had an effect.
Given the closeness of the vote, the elections will be a nailbiter. And even after the elections, no party can take the results as a strong verdict in their favour. As such, they will need to take the other parties into their confidence or even forge a coalition government.
From the Garhwal Post:
‘Umeed India’, which conducted the ‘Garhwal Post-Umeed India’ pre-poll survey on Assembly elections in Uttarakhand specialises in collection and analysis of public opinion. It has a large research team in place in the state, with trained staff of more than 400 people in the field. Their network of professionals, district coordinators, software engineers and political analysts makes them one of leading emerging teams in the country.
They have also conducted one of the biggest digital surveys in India, presently called ‘The Multipurpose Identity Card Survey’ funded by the World Bank in Uttarakhand. They have brought out this in-depth pre-poll survey employing over 200 investigators in the field and covering all the 70 assembly seats.