The UP Electoral results have shown how unreliable and partisan Political Journalism is. To rely on ex-post facto judgments of Why BJP succeeded would be wrong.
As is after every election, a host of articles have appeared in online news portals to explain the electoral success of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, and attempts to explain why this was not “observable” by “journalists” on the ground.
BJP’s success has stunned everyone, themselves, even.
I, of course do not expect Journalists or Observers/Commentators to accurately predict results of an election. But this is in the case of an actual contest between the various fronts. The sort of sweep the BJP had, winning two-thirds of the seats was not seen to have been predicted by no one. In fact, when Dainik Jagran, the largest read Hindi Vernacular newspaper, published a “poll” (which very well might not have been), which showed the BJP in the lead in 38 constituencies in the First Phase, it got a lot of heat from “Left-Liberal” Media houses. (Guess why?)
It turns out that of the 73 seats that went into polling in the first Phase, the BJP won more than 50 seats, which meant the Jagran poll was massively underselling their victory. Not that that mattered. Using “Data” that is the vote share in the first phase which is disproportionately lower in the first phase, The Wire has argued that the Dainik Jagran Poll was decisive in voter’s decision making process. This an example of what I call “Narritivated Thinking”.
What is Narritivated thinking, you ask? I’m glad you asked. Firstly, I’d like to differentiate it from Narrative thinking the psychological theory and the device that is used in the story. The Theory of Narrative thought, proposes that the brain builds a flow of thought to to reconcile the neurological function of the brain with everyday events. The Literary device, is used to frame a story or a plot with connection and meaning. Narritivated thinking is a confluence of the two, with potent political partisanship in the mix as well. It is when the authour has framed a narrative in his mind, and to make this narrative “factually” correct, it ignores those facts that are explicitly or implicitly lead one to a conclusion contrary or dissimilar with the narrative. A selective reading of facts, in short. This is framed with the idea to make the Hypnosis of the authour true, and not to inform, educate or to provoke thought. It is done with the singular objective of the reader believe in the authenticity of the narrative.
As in the case of the Article in The Wire, one might conclude that the Jagran Poll was decisive in ensuring higher voteshare in later phases. It, however conveniently ignores the presence and strength of the RJD in these areas, which acted as a drag on the BJP’s voteshare. The elections here were effectively four way, though the BJP finished first. (Poor MK Venu)
Rahul Gandhi may have taken the Congress to the bottom of the pit, but he gained Dalit votes, so no probs.
The Point here being that no one saw the sweep that the BJP was about to make. And even after the clean sweep, some Media houses are intent on showing how the BJP’s victory is “bigotry” how the “Congress gained Dalits”. The analysis and oversimplification of the electoral result is almost nauseating. One must not forget the causes that the eminences have listed out, either: “social engineering”, “fake news” and the greatest cause of all, Modi. All these undeniably, would have been causes. (NaMo and DeMo almost undoubtedly) but the way that the Media goes about the whole business of dealing with their previous predictions and narratives, so to speak, is self righteous, with an attitude of “We’re always right, We know why so-so won and so-so lost” and ultimately stomach-churning.
The Huffington Post said “There is no Evidence that a Single Muslim voted For the BJP” to which I want to reply, “There is no Single evidence to suggest that Huffington Post is a a reliable news portal”. A tweeter brilliantly showcased how The Wire created its narrative for the UP Elections.
What makes most of it even more depressing and crazy is that many of these “commentators” and “intellectuals” are not even on-the ground journalists ( whose opinions, I feel is more acceptable). They sit in the Socialist (Non-Elephant) Ivory Towers of Lutyen’s Delhi and tell us piss-poor peasants how things went down in Uttar Pradesh.
This was illustrated more or less when Manorama TV channel aired its “UP Special”.(Which I will write on later/Apologies to my non-Malayali Friends)
This why one must exercise a very healthy skepticism of any analysis of Electoral Politics and its analysis, both pre and post election. It is better that one draws the best conclusion it can from both narratives and check whether they match up yourself.