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Pstunning psephology

india Updated: May 23, 2009 22:08 IST
Indrajit Hazra

[Last Sunday, this column did not appear. This was not due to the fact its author had made certain unfortunate remarks in the past about the Gandhi, Malhotra, Wagade or even the Hazra family. It was also not because the author, tender on foot, easy on tongue, had drunk way too much, way too fast and was found singing The Times They Are A’Changin’ outside a newspaper office on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg when he should have been writing his column.

Red Herring did not run last Sunday because its author had thought that his ‘predictive article’ written and sent on late Friday night would still matter on Sunday morning — when actually, the poll results were out by Saturday evening. By the time he realised his mistake and was about to dash off a new column the next day, he was invited to draw straws as two respectable political commentators had already been invited to write on the poll results, alongside the two usual telegenic columnists, for this page. Drawing the shortest straw, the author of Red Herring was ‘excused’ from writing anything new last Sunday.

It’s another matter that Loose Canon columnist Manas Chakravarty had also drawn the ‘shortest straw’ and was told to skip his column. But because Chakravarty and Hazra hadn’t bothered to exchange notes, both ended up with the ‘shortest straws’. Chakravarty, smarter of the two, sent his column (on music producer Phil Spector who has been found guilty of murdering a nightclub hostess in LA) to the British magazine Spectator. It was duly published last week as High Life, with Chakravarty writing under the pseudonym of Taki. Spectator columnist Taki Theodoracopulos was only too happy to comply as he was on a snow-inhaling binge on a sloping mirror inside a posh washroom in Gdaast, Switzerland.

So in all fairness — and because of this writer being sought by everyone after his startling prediction made in last week’s unpublished column that was leaked on the internet last Saturday — we publish last week’s Red Herring below. His column on Sonia Gandhi sent earlier this week will not be published. Ever.]

Going through the various exit polls and incorporating the vital data of Priyanka Vadra stating that the election results will be a “very touch and go” affair, I can see only one result: an overwhelming Congress victory.

I’m looking at a final tally for the UPA of 255-265 seats. How do I figure that? Well, by sensing a serious resurgence of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Having the advantage of not traipsing about the countryside to gauge the (conflicting) signs of the Mood of the Nation, a visit to the Great India Place Mall inside the heart of the state that sends 80 MPs to the Indian Parliament gave me a very clear picture. By noticing the various kinds of people inside the KFC outlet and a new kind of clientele in the Globus shop, it’s clear that Rahul Gandhi has, since he rolled his kurta sleeves up, galvanised the Congress’s organisational structure in UP. Gandhi has also been polite, charming, hardworking and hopeful about the future. What else do people need when deciding their votes? Politics?

I also strongly believe that Manmohan Singh as the brand for a new government has made a deep impression on voters young and old, shaved and bearded, S&M. The nuclear deal, which still hardly means anything to anyone, showed that Singh is willing to take a stand when he is willing to take a stand.

Which brings me to the Left. I foresee the communists becoming politically redundant not because their allies are fat fence-sitters, but because no one likes them. Mamata Banerjee should be able to finally bite the rump that has ruled Bengal for more than 30 years. Considering that CPI(M) cadres turned renegade since Nandigram, I reckon the Trinamool-Congress alliance will pick up some 26 seats with the Left left with a debilitating 15 or so. The Congress, I think, will show gratitude to Mamata for taking that monkey off its back if the ‘unthinkable’ does happen.

The BJP should survive, getting 121-125 seats and become what it was meant to be since 2004: an Opposition party. The likes of Lalu and Paswan and Gowda, having run out of one-liners and general interest in the game of caste-poker, should be boarding the Zombie Express. People, I gather by disregarding the TV pundits, want to live their lives minus the shenanigans of ‘political’ leaders and want good managers to manage the nation.

Of course, I might be terribly wrong and Mayawati could end up as PM with Congress and Left support.