Where are the fighting heads?https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/exit-poll-election-results-where-are-the-fighting-heads-2807598/

Where are the fighting heads?

Some good news from the studios, some of them may have piped down

In the unlikely event of you still having an iota of interest in the TV exit polls that predicted the outcome in four state assembly elections and one Union territory (the largely ignored Puducherry) — the results of which you are perhaps watching this very moment — they sparred like the contestants in the nightly debate bouts. Yes, the exit polls were at each other: While India Today-Axis hammered in 233-253 for what it referred to as the AITC and normal people call the TMC in West Bengal, the C-Voter on Times Now punched in a feeble 167. And while Chanakya saw the BJP+ wallop the Congress 90+ to 27+ in Assam, the C-Voter marked the bout more evenly at 57 to 41.

Yogendra Yadav, with “20 years experience” in polling, said that the talk about split verdicts was “unnecessary” — indulged in because “you have 72 hours to kill” (before counting) — since in 80 per cent of the cases, the result was clear cut (Times Now). On CNN-News 18, the trending news was that all the exit polls had the same trend (basically, Hand down, Lotus in bloom) — not very helpful when there was an 85-seat margin between Axis and C-Voter for West Bengal.

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Some other differences in the exit polls: Most channels quickly put out the verdict for all the states — previously, it was one state at a time. Most used all exit poll results, not just their own, and argued on those; some like NDTV did a “poll of polls” and discussed those figures in the absence of its own poll. Does such an aggregation work?

Many, like Aaj Tak, wound up their special exit poll shows before 8 pm — unless of course you’re News X, Times Now, India Today which carried on and on. Also, saw some new faces tell us about Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala but wish they had been more clearly and more frequently identified. Most unusual of all, channels like News X actually analysed their exit polls the next day, Tuesday. Huh?

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On Tuesday, many channels discussed the “agnipariksha”(IBN-7) for the Congress after the “battering” at the hustings (NDTV 24×7) — the party would be badly singed if not reduced to cinders, was the burn-ing conclusion.

Some fun moments: India Today decided that its experts had tired of sitting up straight at a table so they had them relax in easy chairs — where they practised armchair journalism! On CNN News 18, journalist Ajoy Bose valiantly tried to explain why the AIADMK was projected to lose in Tamil Nadu. He compared Mamata and J. Jayalalithaa in terms of “body language” and that obviously did nothing for the latter. Whereas Mamata was full of bounce and verve, Jayalalithaa was “hampered by something”, he said obscurely.

Now onto the news, and the good news is there is some good news for the viewer: The news is back. Yes, countrywomen and men, more and more channels have returned to the news at 9 pm — the latest being NDTV 24×7. Sure, some have news with views like India Today, CNN News 18 and India TV but news is news, not a fight between loud speakers. Why has it happened? Could it be that fighting heads no longer attract viewers? Or that TV news has remembered that its first calling is the news, the news and nothing but the news?

Don’t know about you, but I find it extremely uncomfortable to watch the widows of murdered men being questioned on television — no matter how sympathetically. In Yogendra Yadav’s words, it seems “unnecessary”. Watched the wife of journalist Rajdev Ranjan looking dazed, stunned as she tried to answer Rajdeep Sardesai coherently. Her haunted face remained with you, not her replies.