The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) will win Huzurnagar byelection by a decent margin. That is the exit poll prediction made by Dr Venugopala Rao of the Centre for Psephology Studies (CPS).
It must be mentioned right at the outset that Dr Rao had predicted the Telangana assembly election results absolutely correctly in December 2018. He had predicted a range of 84-89 seats out of 119 to the TRS, it bagged 88.
While he also got the Andhra Pradesh result spot on forecasting a thumping victory for Jaganmohan Reddy, he erred in the Telangana Lok Sabha election where he had predicted a TRS sweep. The TRS won only nine of the 17 seats in Telangana.
T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Dr Venugopala Rao on the Huzurnagar byelection opinion polls and exit polls.
Disclosure : CPS was commissioned to carry out these polls by his client, the TRS.
Sudhir : What are the findings of your exit poll in Huzurnagar?
Rao : This time we did something different. We prepared a ballot paper with the names of candidates and their symbols and gave it to respondents to stamp on it after they had cast their vote on the EVM inside the polling station. We polled 2400 people in Huzurnagar. The analysis shows TRS has got 51 per cent of the vote while Congress got 39 per cent. The others like TDP and BJP are in single digits.
Sudhir : This is a significant margin. When we last spoke after you had finished your opinion poll on 15 October, you told me it would be a neck-and-neck race with the TRS just ahead by 5 per cent.
Rao : Yes, that is what both the opinion polls that we did in October suggested. The first one that we did in the first week of October and the second one that finished on 15 October, both said there is just a 5 per cent odd difference between the TRS and Congress. In the first opinion, we had 5100 respondents and 5800 in the second. Both indicated it would be a close game.
Sudhir : What has then made it possible to move from a 5 per cent difference to over 10 per cent difference, if your exit poll holds true on 24 October?
Rao : One reason we found on the ground was that the people wanted to vote for the ruling party as they thought it will benefit more. Two, there was a certain sympathy for Saidi Reddy of the TRS as he had lost by 7000 votes last time while Uttam Kumar Reddy of the Congress has represented Huzurnagar three times. This time, his wife Padmavathi is the candidate. So there was a particular mindset in favour of change.
Sudhir : But wasn’t the RTC strike a factor as well?
Rao : Zero impact in Huzurnagar. The sentiment was not anti-government. This is because people were angry with the RTC employees having gone on strike during Dussehra festival, putting them to inconvenience.
Sudhir : We will have to watch out for 24 October if that indeed comes true. The TRS had also deployed a rather large number of ministers and MLAs to campaign in the constituency. This carpet bombing worked, you think?
Rao : If the TRS wins, I would credit it to the poll management of the party. It is par excellence. The manner in which they target the communities, occupational groups, women, convince them to vote for TRS is praiseworthy.