THE Tamil Nadu election results have taken everyone by surprise. This state has once again proved to be electorally volatile and swung decisively in favour of the BJP-AIADMK alliance. The extra 25 seats or so seats that this alliance gained from the DMK-TMC combine, compared to our seat forecast published in Outlook, has made all the difference in our seat prediction at the national level, which otherwise would have been fairly accurate.
One must remember that the fieldwork for this poll was conducted between January 24 and February 1, 1998, when the new BJP alliances in West Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were just taking shape. In fact, in all these states our poll, carried out nearly three weeks before the elections, failed to pick up accurately the impact these alliances would make in the voting pattern. The sweep by the BJP-AIADMK alliance in Tamil Nadu, in particular, eluded every opinion as well as exit poll.