The survey was rebuffed by many old Congressmen who saw it as a ploy to boost the image of CM Siddaramaiah.
Even as the stakes in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly polls are getting higher, the use of surveys as a (mis)information tool has once again come to the fore.
The surfacing of a mysterious survey report by an agency C Fore last Monday triggered speculation. In the normal course, the survey report, which in its pre-poll prediction gave the Congress a lead in the analysis, would have triggered celebrations, but, instead, it brought strong denials. The survey predicted 126 seats for the Congress and 70 seats for the BJP. More than the seats, the survey was more of a referendum on Siddaramaiah’s schemes and governance. Within hours of the survey being splashed on Kannada media and mainstream media, Congress leaders were busy denying that they had commissioned the survey. Trashing an un-favorable survey is a norm for parties, but trashing a survey which predicted very positive results left many amused.
The disappearance of the survey—which the company claimed was conducted in March 2018—from the C Fore website added to the mystery. Was it just a hit and run effort to push Siddaramaiah’s popularity?
But the question is why were Congress leaders in a hurry to dismiss the survey which showed that the Congress would better its tally of 2013? Congress spokesperson K. Satyaprakash told The Sunday Guardian, “It’s an independent survey by the agency. They have done it on their own sweet will and published it. We have no hand in the data released by them.” But there are few takers for the denial by the Congress party. Hemant Kumar, a political analyst, told The Sunday Guardian, “The two factions are not convinced. The survey data was more with reference to performance and a social indicator of the state’s situation. Deciphering it to measure political results is wrong. The data was only a propaganda tool.”
Surveys are generally commissioned by either parties or media houses to gauge the mood of the populace, but here was a survey which had no claimants.
Sources in the Congress indicate that the survey by C Fore was not acceptable to a large section of old Congressmen who believe that it was only a ploy to boost the image of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. A secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, close to the state president G. Parameshwara, confided that it was just a trick by associates of Siddaramaiah to bolster the demand of Siddaramaiah that he be projected as the next Chief Minister in the campaign.
It’s not the first instance that the Congress has denied it had commissioned any survey. It may be recalled that just a couple of weeks ago, a promoter of another survey company, commissioned allegedly by the Congress, found himself being questioned by the High Grounds police station. The promoter of the company was questioned on who had authorised him to conduct the survey, something that he didn’t answer. In fact, it was the result of the survey, which not only predicted a hung Assembly, but also triggered a debate on a Dalit Chief Minister. The survey had indicated an important point that people wanted a Dalit Chief Minister. Even that survey was trashed, as no claimants emerged for the ownership of data. It was perceived that KPCC president G. Parameshwara had got the survey done to strengthen his claims to be projected as the first Dalit Chief Ministerial candidate of the state.
The two surveys and their disowning by the Congress once again brought to the fore the factionalism in the state unit of the party. While the Siddaramaiah camp on one side and the Parameshwara camp, on the other side, want a lion’s share of tickets to be distributed to their supporters, the tacit survey game to bolster their claims has only left the party leaders bemused.
Sources in Congress indicate that the two factions of the Congress in the state are trying their best to influence the AICC. The two surveys were only indirect ways of the leaders communicating their stance to the high command.
The popularity of Siddaramaiah has put old Congressmen on the defensive as they feel threatened that they will be marginalised in case Congress president Rahul Gandhi gives a free hand to the Chief Minister.
So while the surveys may have become the new proxy wars for the warring factions, the divisions in the Congress may just add to its worries. With the party unsure on who it should give tickets to, the rebellion is only waiting to brew. Six-time MLA, Afzalpur Malakaiah Guttedar deserting the Congress to join the BJP this week is only an indicator that all is not well in the party. The MLA was unhappy with the decision of Siddaramaiah to rope in Independent MLA Ashok Kheny into the party. The move did not go well with the old Congress loyalist in the Gulbarga region.