The interview that T S Sudhir of UmaSudhir.com conducted with Dr Venugopala Rao of the Centre for Psephology Studies (CPS) ahead of the Andhra Pradesh elections in which he predicted a victory for the YSR Congress became very controversial. Telugu Desam leaders and activists rubbished his findings even though the sample size in two separate surveys CPS conducted was very impressive. He had polled 4.37 lakh respondents in mid-February and another 3.04 lakh people in end-March in all the 175 constituencies in Andhra Pradesh.
CPS had got the Telangana assembly elections spot-on. He had predicted a range of 84-89 seats to the TRS, it bagged 88. It gave 19 to 21 to the opposition alliance, it got 21.
In order to verify the findings of its pre-poll surveys, CPS conducted a random exit poll in all the 175 constituencies on 11 April, the day of polling and went back to do a post-poll survey three days after voting day, once political tempers had cooled down a bit. During this survey, it focused on 120 constituencies in which its representatives spoke to three sections – women of self-help groups, pensioners and farmers – which the TDP believes would have voted overwhelmingly for them. In each constituency, the CPS teams questioned 50 voters.
T S Sudhir spoke to Venugopala Rao at length on his analysis of the findings of all the three surveys – pre-poll, exit poll and post poll – to find out who is winning Andhra Pradesh. Since exit poll numbers cannot be printed or broadcast before 19 May, we are not putting out the numbers but only talking about the mood that CPS representatives picked up while conducting the survey.
We will publish the entire interview with detailed numbers from each district on the website the evening of 19 May. It will also be available on our You Tube channel, Filter Kaapi, at the same time.
Sudhir : What was the feedback you received from the women belonging to the self-help groups. The TDP was banking heavily on this voter base since the Chandrababu Naidu government had given Rs 10000 to each of the 97 lakh women. Of that amount, Rs 4000 was given just a week before polling day.
Rao : Our work with Naidu is over, is what many of the women openly said. Now they want Jagan to waive off their loans, give money for sending their children to school etc. He has promised Rs 15000 towards every school-going child.
Sudhir : You mean to say that despite being beneficiaries of Naidu regime’s largesse, they did not vote for the TDP?
Rao : They were very clear in their approach on why they voted for Jagan and not for Naidu. Their future is what they spoke about. They want Jagan to fulfill his promises made to them now.
Sudhir : What about pensioners, another group Naidu focused on?
Rao : For the last many months, Jagan was saying he will give Rs 3000 per month. Naidu then hiked it from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000. He later on promised to give Rs 3000 but people we spoke to said, we know Naidu said it because of Jagan’s pressure and elections.
Sudhir : What about the farmers? The YSRCP manifesto had promised a whole lot of freebies for them, from free power to free borewell to no road tax for tractors. Did that makes the difference?
Rao : Farmers were taken in by the Rs 12500 that the YSRCP manifesto promised will be paid to the farmer family every May for the next four years. With these three groups largely going with Jagan, it is difficult for Naidu.
Sudhir : We know money talks but it is quite evident from your survey that voters seem to have linked their vote to their financial future.
Rao : Absolutely. How else will the poor people survive.
Sudhir : A day or two before the elections, Naidu recorded a message asking voters not to bother about the candidates and instead vote for him. He was in a sense, seeking to make it a presidential kind of contest. Didn’t that make a difference because after all, the same Andhra Pradesh voted for TDP in 2014, trusting Naidu’s administrative acumen.
Rao : In fact, when we spoke to people in the constituencies where we are projecting the TDP will win, they said they voted for good candidates of the party. No one said they voted for Naidu, he did not occupy mindspace. On the other hand, in the case of constituencies where YSR Congress is projected to win, everyone said they voted for Jagan. The narrative that Jagan should be given one chance has gained traction. It is only about Jagan, not his candidates.
Sudhir : The YSRCP was otherwise seen only as a Reddy and Christian party. But this election campaign saw it consolidating other community votes.
Rao : Yes. Jagan and his team did good politics. They united Reddys, SCs, BCs, Christians and Muslims. Which means only Kammas and Kapus were out of the ambit. But even Kapus, the YSRCP would end up getting a decent share of the community vote. Jagan tried to neutralise the Kamma factor by putting up strong Kamma candidates like Daggubati Venkateswara Rao (NTR’s son-in-law) in Parchur in Prakasam district.
Sudhir : You mentioned the Kapu vote. You mean to say it did not stay completely with Pawan Kalyan and the Jana Sena?
Rao : Jana Sena has got between 25-34 per cent of the Kapu community vote in constituencies in three districts of Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari. But here you need to note that this Kapu vote was with TDP in 2014. So Pawan Kalyan has hurt Naidu, not Jagan.
Categories: Andhra Pradesh