The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exit, not entry, is the worry

New Delhi, April 21: If the exit polls have left the BJP squirming in private, the Congress seems to feel more comfortable with blinkers on.

As Congress leaders simply dismissed the results as “biased and inaccurate”, Ahmed Patel, a member of the party’s strategy committee, said: “Our campaign is going on very well. There are no new strategies.”

However, as part of the strategy of putting its head into the sand, the party is pressing ahead with its demand for banning exit polls. “We will ask the (Election) Commission to consider a ban on exit polls once again,” spokesperson Anand Sharma said.

This would appear to suggest exit polls are its main enemy, and not the BJP, which is seen getting fewer seats than in 1999 in the 140 seats where elections were held yesterday.

Pleased as the Congress would be with this, the exit polls also show it to be out of competition for the seat in Delhi.

Besides, there are big shocks in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The party claimed though that “the ground-level feedback of the Congress is that it will improve its position” in several states.

As for the focus in the next rounds, Sharma just said: “Our aim now is to make the campaign more effective.”

It’s not clear how that would be done. Other than Sonia Gandhi, there are only her children, Rahul and Priyanka, who are thought to be star campaigners. Both are stuck in Uttar Pradesh.

All the strategic shifts which seem to have taken place are that Rahul, who was to venture out of Amethi into eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Priyanka, expected to travel to Andhra, are now unlikely to do so.

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