The pull of the poll

Sakal Times
Saturday, 16 March 2019

The year of the General Elections is always full of excitement, curiosity and anxiety for both the contestants and the observers.

The year of the General Elections is always full of excitement, curiosity and anxiety for both the contestants and the observers. As we are a month away from the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India, it would be interesting to take a look at the two books that Penguin has come up with to help people know about our netas, the election process, the Indian polity and allied stuff.

The Verdict: Decoding India’s Elections by Dr Prannoy Roy and Dorab R Sopariwala is aimed to demystify the General Elections and answer critical questions on electoral politics. Positioned as a must-read for anyone interested in politics and elections in India, the book will talk about the entire span of India’s electoral history — from the first elections in 1952, till today. Crucially, for 2019, it will give us pointers to look out for, in terms of the fate of the incumbent government.

What are the key factors that win or lose elections in India? What does, or does not, make India’s democracy tick? Is this the end of anti-incumbency? Are opinion polls and exit polls reliable? How pervasive is the ‘fear factor’? Does the Indian woman’s vote matter? Does the selection of candidates impact results? Are elections becoming more democratic or less so? Can electronic voting machines (EVMs) be fiddled with? Can Indian elections be called ‘a jugaad system’? To find answers to all these questions, take The Verdict!

Another one from the Penguin stable on the same subject is How To Win An Indian Election, What Political Parties Don’t Want You To Know by Shivam Shankar Singh. Singh has headed data analytics and campaigns for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Manipur and Tripura Legislative Assembly elections under the guidance of the party’s National General Secretary, Ram Madhav in the past. He quit the party in June 2018.

The book looks at the role political consultants play in election campaigns and answers questions like —How are political parties using technological tools such as data analytics, surveys and alternative media to construct effective, micro-targeted campaigns?, How does the use of money impact election results?, What aids in the en masse dissemination of divisive propaganda and fake news?, What is the future of politics in the country?

Based on research, interviews and the author’s own experiences, this book provides an insight into the inner workings of politics, political parties and what really makes for a winning election campaign.

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