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Wednesday, 4 February 2015
AAP used Congress leader’s agency to conduct survey
The latest survey showed a ‘steady improvement in the position of the Aam Aadmi Party’.
NAVTAN KUMAR New Delhi | 16th Nov 2013
he agency which carried out the opinion poll giving the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) a sweeping 32 seats in the Delhi Assembly elections is owned by a Congress leader.
The New Delhi-based Cicero Associates and Consultants Private Limited, which was registered on 5 November 2012, carried out the survey along with senior AAP functionary and psephologist Yogendra Yadav, between 5 September and 5 October, covering 1,750 polling booths and 34,425 respondents across 70 Assembly constituencies in Delhi. The survey claimed that AAP would get as much as 32% of the votes and thus would have a majority to form the government.
The agency in question has two directors, Sunit Kumar Madhur and Dhananjai Joshi as per information available on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) website. While Madhur is a secretary in the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC), as per information available on the party's website, Joshi is a property dealer. Madhur contested the municipal elections from Pul Pahlad constituency in 2007. As per the address given on the MCA website, Madhur lives at GA 34, Pul Pahladpur, New Delhi.
Interestingly, the AAP had commissioned the agency to gauge the public mood in Delhi in February and in August, during which it interviewed 3,310 and 3,372 respondents. The latest survey showed a "steady improvement in the position of the Aam Aadmi Party". The survey said: "Since the last survey, AAP has gained 5 percentage points to move to the first position. If elections were held between September 5th and October 5th, the AAP would have secure 32% votes, followed by Congress with 28% and the BJP with 24% votes respectively."
As per the survey, AAP was leading in 32 seats, the Congress in 28 seats and the BJP in 10 seats. Similarly, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, according to the survey, at 36% was way ahead of Sheila Dikshit at 30% and Vijay Goel at 23% as per approval ratings as Delhi's next Chief Minister. The BJP had not announced Harshvardhan's name as its chief ministerial candidate at the time.
Repeated attempts to contact Madhur went futile. However, the Congress tried to distance itself from him. Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president J.P. Agarwal said, "I do not know any person called Sunit Kumar Madhur. At least he is not part of our team."
DPCC general secretary Alka Lamba said, "I know one Sunit Kumar Madhur, who had contested the municipal elections on a Congress ticket in 2007. But I do not know whether it is the same Madhur who is the director of Cicero Associates. In any case I have not met him for the last four-five years."
Delhi BJP spokesperson Aman Sinha said: "AAP engaged a Congress controlled unknown research company to get a favourable survey despite the fact that there are many good agencies in the market. This proves that there is mili bhagat (collusion) between the Congress and the AAP. All this is part of the Congress' game to somehow split the anti-Congress vote. We have been saying for a long time that Congress has links with AAP and that the latter is the Congress' B-team. Now we have substantial evidence. The fight between them is just noora kushti."
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Yogendra Yadav denied any "double deal": "I am aware that Madhur has been associated with the Congress. But in Cicero Associates, there is a clear division of responsibilities. Madhur looks after the political consultancy part, while Joshi looks after the operational part. Before engaging them for the job, we had made it clear that Madhur will not have any role in it."
Yadav also rubbished the questions raised against the survey, saying: "This is ridiculous. How can a Congress-sponsored survey say that Congress is trailing, or Sheila Dikshit is an extremely unpopular Chief Minister? We had done three rounds of surveys and started making the report public from round two. We have made the raw data file public. If anyone feels it is fake, he is free to point it out. But raising questions on the authenticity of the survey and saying it is sponsored by the Congress is completely weird. I fail to understand how the survey helps the Congress."