Congress Has 2.8% Lead Over BJP In Madhya Pradesh, Says Party Data Expert

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Congress data analytics expert Shashank Shukla said the party has edged past the BJP

New Delhi:

A top Congress data analyst has claimed the party has a slim 2.8 per cent edge over the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh, ahead of the assembly elections to be held on Wednesday.

Most opinion polls have suggested a lead, albeit a very narrow one, for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. An average of the polls conducted in the last one month, suggest the BJP is projected to get 116 seats, over 102 seats to the Congress.

However, Shashank Shukla, the national coordinator for the Congress data analytics team supervising the party's campaign in Madhya Pradesh told NDTV that the party has edged past the BJP.

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"CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) data, which is about three weeks old, right now suggests that the contest (in Madhya Pradesh) has become close. Now if you go back a bit, BJP actually, across polls, had about 4-5 per cent lead. About three weeks back it became 1 per cent (as per the CSDS polls). As per our surveys now, we have a 2.8 per cent lead as I speak. This is as of yesterday (Sunday)," Mr Shukla said.

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Madhya Pradesh government employees, deployed on poll duty, wait in a queue to cast their postal votes for the assembly elections, in Jabalpur (PTI)

Mr Shukla conceded that this could be within the margin of error, but also added that over the next couple of days the Congress's lead will "go over 5 per cent".

According to Mr Shukla, the Congress achieved this as part of its larger strategy to focus on booths and grassroot level mobilisation, through their Project Shakti — a campaign to galvanise booth-level workers. Madhya Pradesh has 230 assembly constituencies, with 65,341 booths.

"As a matter of fact we have coverage in about 95 per cent of the booths. The range of workers is spread from five workers in some booths, to 25-30 workers in some places. So as long as we have a booth committee in place, we claim that we have a presence at that particular booth," he said.

However, he said they are currently focusing on 43 "battleground assemblies" of the total 230, where historically the margin of victory for the BJP has been low. These assemblies have 10,429 booths, where they have deployed 47,483 workers.

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a rally in Madhya Pradesh

"In all these 10,000 booths I am talking about right now, we will increase 100 votes for the Congress party," he said.

When asked how, he said, "They have been deployed using two strategies. One is, people who have got smartphones, they have got something called the 'Ghar Ghar Congress' app. Where they are going door-to-door, with voters' list on their phones. Number two, people who have basic phones, they are going with the key promises of the manifesto, and again knocking door-to-door."

Ruhi Tewari, the associate editor of online news portal The Print, however, questioned why the Congress was not able to make a stronger impact in the state.

"Even after all this, if the Congress's own internal assessment says there is only a 2.8 per cent lead, which all of us know can be a margin of error, really, what have they done in 15 years of anti-incumbency, farmer anger, you are claiming you have a booth level presence, then why is it still so close? Why is it not a Congress election?" she said.

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