Computer glitch 'swapped' vote for alliances, say Today's Chanakya but questions remain

Updated on : Nov 09,2015   9:38 pm

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Pollster Today's Chanakya, which on Sunday apologised for its bizarre prediction of giving 155 seats to BJP-led alliance in the Bihar assembly polls, on Monday attributed the error to "interchanging" of computer template code marking of two alliances.

But it has left several questions unanswered.

The question that arises is how did the coding of the alliances get interchanged, when the agency claims it conducted "continuous tracking poll during the election period", exit poll in all five-phases and "certain post-poll studies" in the first four phases.

When contacted, an official spokesman of Today's Chanakya said that "human error" was the reason for its wrong forecast.

"There was human error at our end. Alliances were interchanged while coding. Coding error was there," the spokesman who declined to be named told IANS over the phone.

Today's Chanakya also said its sample size for Bihar elections was of 7,865 voters. However, it did not clarify whether these were for tracking polls, the exit polls or the post-poll studies. The spokesman said the agency had used "all the data for its final analysis." Bihar has an electorate of 6.68 crore.

Chanakya has got some of its earlier predictions on elections nearer to the actual figure.

While the pollster says its figures should be swapped for the two alliances, there is still a gap of four percent even in its "swapped" prediction and the actual vote share of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the Grand Alliance of the Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.

He said the practice of generating code is followed if political parties are contesting poll in an alliance.

Today's Chanakya had originally predicted that BJP-led alliance will get 46 percent vote (with a margin of error of three percent) and 155 seats (plus/minus 11 seats). It had said the Grand Alliance will get 39 percent vote (with a margin of error of three percent) and get 83 seats (plus/minus nine seats).

In the results announced on Sunday, the Grand Alliance triumphed with 178 of the 243 seats with a 42 per cent vote share while the BJP and its allies could get only 58 seats with 34 percent of the votes.

Even if figures and votes polled by the Grand Alliances and the NDA, predicted by Today's Chanakya, were swapped, it still leaves a gap of over four percent for the two alliances from their actual vote share.

The official spokesman said their prediction provided for three percent margin of error and there were similar gaps in vote share prediction by some other pollsters.

However, he added that due to error on their end, the whole analysis went wrong.

Asked about small sample size, the spokesman said "samples should be representative".

He said "quality" is more important than "quantity".

Asked if caste analysis of Today's Chanakya, which predicted 66 percent votes from Baniya and Brahmin community to the BJP-led alliance and 15 percent to the Grand Alliance, should also be swapped, he said "caste analysis was separate".

Asked about its prediction that there was strong inclination of women voters towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and not towards the BJP, he said "when my whole coding is wrong, interpretation is (also) wrong."

He declined to share data, saying no agency does it.

To a question about Today's Chanakya website having less information than contained in press release, he said that the release has more information to answer likely queries from media.

The tag line on Today's Chanakya website reads: "We are having the arts (sic) of winning elections".

The agency is also into "public opinion creation", "political party positioning" "election campaign management" and "campaign support."

Asked about conflict of interest of these tasks with its role of conducting opinion polls, the spokesman said there was no such conflict.

He said every job is done on its own.

He also said the agency had made quite close predictions about the last two Lok Sabha polls as also Delhi elections of 2013 and the last Karnataka assembly polls.

"When we do a job, we do it independently," he said.

News television channel NDTV, whose exit poll had a sample size of 76,000, on Sunday evening apologised for getting it wrong. It had predicted 120-130 seats for the BJP alliance and 105-115 for the Grand Alliance.

Prannoy Roy, founder-editor, who had generally predicted several elections correctly, said on NDTV website that "the data from the fieldwork agency, normally a very reliable agency, was incorrect and this happens. And we are looking into why this went wrong."

He also said that on counting day, "we showed the BJP ahead - that's what the data showed. The data, unfortunately, turned out to be incorrect. All news channels had to change their data half-way," he added.