E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I saw the Ace Political Expert (APE) at the entrance of the Press Club. Since APE is in great demand in the election season and hard to get, here is an opportunity not to be missed, I thought. He agreed to join me and we sat in a quiet corner.
I called the waiter to place our order.
“I will have Black Dog whisky with ice. No soda,” APE told the bearer. I was surprised. APE is normally a fish in a beer bowl. I ordered Vijay Mallya‘s Kingfisher for myself; chicken tikka and salted peanuts as accompaniments completed the orchestra.
After couple of sips, I asked APE: “Who do you think will win this election?”
APE took a swig from the second glass of whisky, thought for a while and said, “It’s got to be Congress this time. Yuvraj, sorry Rahul, himself came and campaigned this time. If you add that to Rs 60,000 crore announced by Chidambaram and factor in Ambika Soni‘s promise of classical status for Karnataka, it’s Congress all the way. No doubt about this.”
I was amazed at the power of his acumen—the power to see through and connect seemingly unrelated events.
The waiter sauntered along. Before I could bark “repeat”, APE ordered XXX rum, double. I asked for Kingfisher again, keeping in mind the losses incurred by Mallya through his Royal Challengers. I didn’t want him to sack the UB CEO after Charu Sharma.
Fish fingers and Raja’s special was what APE wanted along with the drinks.
“What about the BJP? How will they fare this time?” I asked.
APE lifted his glass, considered my question from all angles, chewed the fish stick with satisfaction and after a carefully measured small sip said: “Now that you ask me, yes, I would say. Advaniji‘s biography, no matter what Murli Manohar Joshi thinks of it, that and the new found camaraderie between Ananth Kumar and Yediyurappa, makes them hot favourites. If you add the great injustice done to them by JDS, and a “mini-Modi wave” among the upper castes, I should think BJP will form a government all by themselves,” he banged the table emphatically.
This brought the attention of the waiter for the next order.
APE went to the toilet and I noticed he didn’t exactly walk in a straight line when he came back to his chair.
“I will have chilled white wine and Dutch cheese, if you have it. I don’t want any more hard liquor.”
His words were also like his walk and the little liquor league which APE had embarked on, looked like a cross between Mallya’s Royal Challengers and Deccan Chronicle‘s Deccan Chargers. Only God knows what they were up to, how they would get along, and where they were going.
“Do you feel JDS has any chance at all,” I asked APE who was holding the wine glass in one hand and the chair next to him for support.
“Nobody in their shenses would ever ignore JD(eSh),” he slushed. “The phather-son combo is the bhest phor all thims. Their pujas and homas and 30 per shent reservation in IT, BT and bitty sectors might yet make them a dark horse. They may still make the government both here and at the Centre!”
By now it was clear the APE had lost all the marbles in his head. I grabbed a jug of water from the passing waiter poured it into his glass and asked him to drink that.
After he drank two glasses of water, he put the glass down. His eyes shone as he made a gesture with his hand.
“It’s all clear now. Nobody will get a majority. I think all the three parties will come together and form a regional government. It will be called the Government of United Farmers and IT. In other words, an UNFIT Government.”
With that APE collapsed on his chair. I carried him with the help of a bearer, put him in the back seat, and started the car.