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Ashoka University distances itself from professor’s paper that peddles wild ‘election manipulation’ theories against BJP, Shashi Tharoor had amplified it

Ashoka University has already distanced itself from Sabyasachi Das' so-called research paper and has basically termed it as 'social media activism'. However, when it comes to the Opposition parties in India, the factual accuracy of their claims never held much importance anyway.

Ashoka University on 1st August 2023, posted a tweet clarifying their stand on a recent controversy over a ‘research paper’ by one of their professors, Sabyasachi Das. In the tweet, the University clarified that while they do encourage research, they do not control the choice of specific research projects carried out by their faculty members.

Without taking Sabyasachi Das’ name, the University asserted that they only value research papers that are published in reputed journals after being critically peer-reviewed.

“To the best of our knowledge, the paper in question has not yet completed a critical review process and has not been published in an academic journal”, the University said.

Additionally, the University said, “Social media activity or public activism by Ashoka faculty, students or staff in their individual capacity does not reflect the stand of the University.”

Basically, the University distanced itself from the particular ‘research paper’ by their faculty member, clarifying that social media activity of publicity stunts by that person are in no way linked to the University.

What is the ‘research paper’ by Sabyasachi Das

An alleged ‘research paper’, unpublished so far in any academic journal and yet to be peer-reviewed, as clarified by Ashoka University, gained attention on social media recently after a Twitter user shared a long thread on it, describing how the so-called ‘research’ shows that BJP has been manipulating elections in India.

By claiming they have ‘scientific evidence’, the paper boasts that they have cracked how the BJP wins elections in India. It claimed that ‘manipulation’ is achieved by targeted discrimination against India’s largest minority group, Muslims.

One MR Sharan, shared the said paper, noting how the said research compiled data. “Election results from 1977-2019, EVM turnout data for 2019, Voter rolls (including name classifiers), National election surveys, data on counting observers”, he shared.

The paper makes some wild claims, like “BJP wins most of the close contest elections”. Sharan shared, “Somehow, BJP wins more close-contest elections, but Congress doesn’t. He claims that close-contest elections can go either way, and there is no reason that BJP should win more, given they (allegedly) didn’t put more effort.

It is not understood how he concluded that the BJP doesn’t put more effort into the campaign than the Congress.

The paper suggests that the BJP wins more owing to ‘electoral manipulation’, that is, somehow deleting the names of voters from lists. That too, deleting the names of Muslim voters.

The paper further suggests that not just the deletion of Muslim names from the voter list, the BJP even manipulates voter turnouts somehow. Not stopping at that, the paper appears to be crunching some data and somehow arriving at a conclusion that the BJP wins more when the election observers are from state civil services, as opposed to IAS.

Doing some wild math, Das claims in the paper that the BJP has won at least 11 seats in the 2019 elections by doing “voter manipulation”.

Shashi Tharoor jumps up to hail the paper, as expected from Congress

Sharan’s tweet was soon picked up by Shashi Tharoor who went on to claim grave dangers looming over India’s democracy, as always.

“This thread offers a hugely troubling analysis for all lovers of Indian democracy. If the Election Commission and/or the Government of India have answers available to refute these arguments, they should provide them in detail”, Tharoor tweeted.

The Congress has been crying ‘EVM manipulation’ for years and years, and has yet to produce a shred of evidence, despite the Election Commission of India openly calling them to come forward and prove it. Apart from that, even a layman in India can explain why Congress losses elections. Tharoor himself has been trying to point out the weaknesses in his own party, only to be ignored by the leadership.

‘Research paper’ gets slammed for wild data juggling, wrong details, and more

In the meanwhile, many social media users have come forward to point out basic flaws in the so-called ‘research paper’.

The claims made in the paper were ‘critically reviewed’ by another Twitter user @Saiarav. The handle examined the claims of BJP winning ‘close contest’ elections by voter manipulation.

Taking the claim that the BJP won 11-12 seats more than what would have been the ‘ideal scenario’ of winning 50% of the ‘close contest’ seats, @Sairav pointed out that the alleged ‘voter manipulation’ even if possible, can only be possible only in non-NDA ruled states, as the paper itself claims.

“However, for the complicated statistical jugglery exhibited throughout the paper, it gets this basic fact wrong. This pattern of outperformance is not limited to NDA ruled states. Out of the 41 seats it won, nearly half are from non-NDA states”, he added.

19 of the 41 seats won by BJP in close-contest, or a 0-5% gap were in non-NDA ruled states, completely in contradiction to what the paper claims in the text.

Additionally, the strike rate of winning those seats in non-NDA states for BJP has been 66%, he pointed out.

Additionally, @Sairav also pointed out that the growth rate of the electorate in BJP-won seats was at par with the national average of the growth rate of the electorate, so the claims of ‘manipulation’ do not hold up. Also, the 4 seats that the BJP lost in Bengal by a close margin of 5% or less, had an electorate growth rate of approximately 11.6%, above the national average.

He also pointed out other factual errors and mistakes made in the paper, like citing Nabrangpur, Odisha as a ‘close contest’ for BJP when the party was a distant third, behind Congress, and citing 2 union territories of Andaman & Nicobar and Dadra and Nagar Haveli as non-BJP ruled areas.

Ashoka University has already distanced itself from Sabyasachi Das’ so-called research paper and has basically termed it as ‘social media activism’. However, when it comes to the Opposition parties in India, the factual accuracy of their claims never held much importance anyway. So it cannot be entirely impossible that they hold this dubious ‘research’ as some world-class scientific evidence to justify their election losses, in the past and in the future.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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