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Pune varsity gets set for poll analysis

These will be some of the questions to which the Department of Political Science,University of Pune...

Written by Sunanda Mehta | Pune |
March 15, 2009 10:46:03 pm

* Did strategic voting,whereby voters vote to defeat a particular party or candidate,play a role in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections?
* Did the economic situation affect the voting pattern?
* What impact did the terror attacks and fear psychology have on people’s selection of candidate/party?

These will be some of the questions to which the Department of Political Science,University of Pune (UoP) will seek answers in its post-poll analysis for the state,entrusted to it by the Centre of Developing Societies (CSDS) New Delhi and the UGC.

And while the polls are still a month away and the results another month,hectic work is afoot at the department to identify the size and composition of the sample respondents and impart training to the 50-odd volunteers who will be undertaking the survey. The department has been involved in the Lok Sabha election analysis since 1996.

“While our investigations begin immediately after the results are announced and completed within a week,usually we do enough groundwork before that to be able to give an initial analysis within 24 hours of the results. A complete report is compiled in the next 15 days after taking into account inputs from other sates,” said Dr Suhas Palshikar,head of the department and co-director of the programme on the national level.

While Palshikar will oversee the project,it’s Rajeshwari Deshpande,reader at the UoP,and Nitin Birmal,lecturer at Dr Ambedkar College,Yerawada,who will be working on it hands-on along with project supervisor Vivek Ghotale. “The post-poll surveys are also used for long-term analysis by political science students as they throw up interesting facets of Indian polity,” Deshpande said.

“For instance,in 2004 we found a huge difference in the voting pattern for the Congress in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. In fact,had the UPA not been in power at the Centre,the Congress-NCP combine may have well lost the elections. Based on this,we could study aspects like the effect of coalitions or shifting of support base in the classrooms,” Palshikar said.

With about 1,500-2,000 respondents chosen randomly from voters across all socio-economic strata in the state,a three-day training programme is imparted to volunteers. They will then be armed with an exhaustive questionnaire of at least 50 questions.

“We are not into predictions really but we will be looking keenly at Sharad Pawar’s strategies and the number of seats he is able to capture,given the emergence of the third front. The Congress has lost a lot of its support base with the Maratha votes being fragmented over the years. Also it’s doubtful that the BJP-Shiv Sena will be able to make an impact in the state,” Deshpande said.

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