Seriously troubled Vajpayee tried to buy media
By Arun Rajnath
New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) thinks it could buy anything. It believes in the great Indian market, everything is up for sale. From journalists’ allegiance to opinion polls and exit polls, the PMO has put a price tag for everything.
This only shows BJP is not so sure about its victory on pure merits. It also proves that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is skeptical about his victory in the general elections, and he realizes that for him the world could end with a whimper. Mr. Vajpayee, somehow, realizes he is losing the battle.
Vajpayee's men at the PMO have thus tried to influence all the opinion and exit polls appearing in various Indian newspapers and television channels. The latest example is of the Zee News and Talim poll survey.
Almost every newspaper, newsmagazine and television channel has been making predictions of clear majority to the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance. The ‘India Today’ conducted a survey in collaboration with ORG-Marg from 9-17 January on 98 seats. They contacted 17,649 voters. That survey predicted 330-340 seats for the NDA, 105-115 seats for the Congress and 95-105 for others. The survey-report appeared in the magazine on 9th February.
‘Outlook’ magazine, a harsh critic of the Vajpayee-government, conducted a poll-survey in collaboration with the MDRA from 19-25 February on 102 seats. The pollsters talked to 12,249 voters. According to them the NDA is getting 280-290 seats, Congress is getting 105-115 seats and 89-99 seats are going to others. The report appeared in the magazine in the issue of 15th March.
The NDTV and Indian Express jointly conducted survey in collaboration with the NC Nelson from 5-18 March. They talked to 45,578 voters. They have predicted clear majority for the NDA with 287-307 seats. According to them the Congress would be confined to 143-163 seats whereas others would get 90-100 seats. The report was telecast on 27th March.
The Star News conducted opinion-poll in collaboration with the C-Voter from 25-31 March. They contacted 12,000 voters of 120 parliamentary constituencies. They are predicting that the NDA is getting 277 seats, Congress-164 seats and others are getting 102 seats. They telecast the report on their channel on 4th April.
Sahara TV Channel conducted survey in collaboration with the DRS from 28th March to 5th April.They talked to 65,089 voters scattered in 500 parliamentary seats. According to them the NDA gets 271 seats, Congress 168 and others 104.The survey-report was telecast on the Sahara News on 10th April.
The Week has conducted opinion poll from 25th March to 1st April in collaboration with the TNS on 143 parliamentary seats. They contacted 17,513 voters. The report was published in the magazine on 18th April which predicted 230-265 seats for the NDA, 170-200 seats for the Congress and 95-110 seats for others.
India Today once again conducted the poll-survey, but this time jointly with a Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhasker, and in collaboration with the survey company ORG-Marg. This survey lasted from 25th March to 7th April. This time they contacted 51,000 voters of 199 parliamentary seats, and report was published on 15th April. Now they are predicting 282 seats for the NDA, 165 seats for the Congress, and 96 seats for others.
The NDTV-Indian Express also conducted a second opinion-poll in collaboration with the NC-Nelson from 6-13 April on 57-140 seats. They talked to 16,393 voters, and predicted 260-280 seats for the NDA, 165-180 seats for the Congress, and 97-105 seats for others. The report was telecast on 15th April.
Similarly, the Star TV also conducted second survey with the C-Voter from 10-16 April in 120 parliamentary constituencies. They talked to 12,000 voters. The report was telecast on 17th April according to which the NDA is getting 272-286 seats, Congress 154-170 seats, and others are getting 95-111 seats.
Almost all the newspapers, magazines and television news channels have predicted clear majority for the NDA, and another five-year stint in the PMO for Atal Behari Vajpayee. Only the Talim poll-surveyor, initially, dared to submit a report contrary to these sponsored surveys.
According to the Talim, the NDA is not getting more than 230-235 seats. This survey was conducted from 15-20 March in 65 parliamentary constituencies.The surveyors contacted 12,788 voters. The report was submitted to the top officials of the Zee News on March 30.
In the original report, the Talim had made predictions that India is moving towards a hung parliament, but after the emergence of the Third Front, a new and non-BJP government could come into existence. According to sources at the Talim, an unexpected leader may lead the government which would last two-three years, and then mid-term poll may take place.
Sources at the Talim told the South Asia Tribune that no sooner did Talim director Vinod Agrawal submit his report to the officials of the Zee News, a phone-call came from the PMO. Somebody wanted to talk to Lakshmi Goyal, Director, Zee News. From the other side, somebody persuaded Lakshmi Goyal to drop the report, and telecast the cooked and concocted version instead.
Goyal immediately called over all the BJP-men of the organization including newly inducted Rahul Dev, Incharge Election. Dev is a journalist well-known for his Hindutva leanings. They summoned Vinod Agrawal, Director, Talim, and urged him to withdraw his report, and cook one in which the NDA is shown as winning.
Agrawal was surprised as who from the Zee News leaked the story to the PMO. Perhaps he did not know that the PMO and Sangh Parivar have got their men appointed on all key positions in media. Anyhow, his team conducted another poll-survey, and this time within the precincts of the Zee News. This report was shown by the channel on 4th April. According to this cooked report, NDA is getting 265 seats, Congress 196, and others are getting 83 seats.
But the original one says that the Congress party is getting more than 175 seats on its own, and the total seats of the Congress-allies go up to 275 out of total parliamentary seats of 543.
This correspondent called up the Zee News to have a chat with Lakshmi Goyal, Director, Zee News for his version, but in vain. The receptionist told me that Mr. Goyal could not talk as he was in the meeting. I told the receptionist about the story and left my number with a request to convey my message to Mr. Goyal. I am still waiting for his call. I tried to talk to one Alka Srivastava, another top Zee-boss, but she declined to comment as if she knew nothing about the episode.
In the exit-polls also the top editors and journalists are showing their loyalty to Mr. Vajpayee and his cronies. Barring few, almost all the newspapers and channels are still in the impression that Vajpayee led NDA is going to form the government. Even one of the most renowned editors such as Vinod Mehta, Editor ‘Outlook’, who happened to be a harsh critic of Mr. Vajpayee, also says that the NDA would turn the table in its favor after the last two phases of polling on May 5 and 10...
(South Asia Tribune, 2-8 May 2004) http://www.satribune.com/
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